"I am just waiting for my leaves to get approved. Once it’s done, I am off to Sajek!"
It took only 30 minutes for Facebook to show the "Travel to Sajek at the Lowest Cost!" advertisement on Nobin's Facebook feed after he bragged about it to me. So, what happened? Is Facebook listening to him?
Well, the answer is ‘Yes’ and ‘No’. It's complicated, to say the least, and there are 3 things that you need to know before you can draw your own conclusion. And I promise to keep them short.
Nobin did not think about Sajek out of the blue. He might’ve never searched it elsewhere or texted about it, but I did. I and my friends kept talking about it. That's where he got the idea. None of our ideas is in a vacuum. Things happening around us, help form our thought.
What's a lookalike audience in a Facebook ad? This is basically what I tell Facebook, here are a bunch of people who bought from me, now show ads to people who look like them. How does Facebook know who look-alike them? Here are some things Facebook tracks to know that.
Facebook knows Nobin, I, and 20 others are friends (photos, posts, comment data, etc). Four out of whom hang out every day (geographical data). And out of whom, I & Nobin like & comment a lot on common interests and visit a lot of similar websites ( Everyone's posts, Likes & Comments). I have been searching about “Sajek tours cost” for the last 2 days. (Everyone's App & Web uses every other app & website). So Facebook makes a calculated prediction that if I like it, Nobin likes it. *My prediction model is based on only 5 data points. Facebook has a couple of million data points.
If Facebook listens to my microphone without my permission, there is a chance someday, some rogue employee might leak that information and will give the very hungry U.S. Congress which is dying to shut down Facebook, a reason to do so. And, if by some miracle Facebook escapes the legal fiasco, the App store & Play store will ban them from doing business.
Let's say Facebook found a legal loophole and managed everything from the Congress to App Store and Play Store, but then there will be thousands of apps listening to people and becoming very precise in ad targeting. For a giant like Facebook, which can target ads with precision without listening, that's just unwanted competition.
SO, LET'S ANSWER IT ONCE MORE.
Is Facebook listening to You?
THEY DON'T HAVE TO.
THEY ALREADY KNOW WHAT YOU’RE THINKING.