In the midst of the fallout of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, Facebook recently announced that it will put an end to its Partner Categories program. The move effectively cuts off third-party access to the social media giant’s data.
Facebook utilizes data from third-party data collectors to augment its own data pool for ad targeting. The company also allowed advertisers to target consumers using data collated from several sources, including Facebook, the advertiser itself and third-party services like Acxiom and Experian.
Third-party data has been useful to companies and advertisers that do not have their own customer data. However, the Cambridge Analytica affair proved that Facebook has very little control over how these data collectors get their data, which makes using it is quite risky.
In a truncated statement attributed to Facebook’s product marketing director Graham Mudd, the company wanted to inform advertisers of its move to shut down Partner Categories, a feature that allows third-party data providers to offer their targeting straight on Facebook. And while the company says it’s a common practice in the industry, they believe this step “will help improve people’s privacy on Facebook.”
The Partner Categories program started in 2013. It was borne by a partnership between the social media platform and big data brokers.
At the time of the program’s launch, the company assured its users that they’re very serious about privacy. But in light of what happened with Cambridge Analytica, it seems Facebook is re-evaluating its stance. Aside from the announcement about third-party access, the company has also updated its privacy control settings.
The move to restrict access to user data stems from Mark Zuckerberg’s promise last week. Facebook’s founder said in a post that the company has “a responsibility to protect your data, and if we can’t then we don’t deserve to serve you. I’ve been working to understand exactly what happened and how to make sure this doesn’t happen again.”