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Facebook’s Interest Targeting Algorithm is Only 66% Accurate, New Study Shows

The most common criticism that Facebook receives has to do with how invasive its interest targeting algorithm can seem because of the fact that this is the sort of thing that could potentially end up making users feel like their privacy might get violated at any moment. This has resulted in voter manipulation as well as other shady practices becoming commonplace on the social media platform, but a new study revealed that the algorithm might not be as accurate as Facebook tries to suggest.

A group of researchers working out of North Carolina State University have just done a study that revealed the rather high rate of inaccuracy in Facebook’s interest targeting. Many assumed that it was powerful enough to actually predict future interests based on past ones, but in spite of the fact that this is the case the research showed that the algorithm was accurate only about 66% of the time. That is a pretty low success rate with all things having been considered and taken into account.

With all of that having been said and now out of the way, it is important to note that this can be a really big problem because it can drive up ad spends. Over 33% of the interests that this algorithm targeted ended up being irrelevant for the audience that the ad was trying to market itself to. For example, commenting something negative on a Facebook page resulted in these researchers seeing ads that were related to the interest niche said page was involved in despite the lack of interest that this comment should have indicated.

Several other errors were noted as well, such as Facebook attributing an interest in Apple products to the fruit named apple, which can ruin the efficiency of ad campaigns that anyone might be trying to run. While the sample size of 146 is quite small compared to Facebook’s multi-billion strong user base, the fact that so many errors were noted in such a minute sample size suggests that the problem could be endemic which could ruin Facebook’s status as a premium digital ad platform.


Read next: Alarming New Report Claims Apple & Meta Handed Over Data From Users To Hackers

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