Facebook profiles users according to sensitive data

Facebook has been criticized for “commercially exploiting sensitive personal data for advertising purposes through the so-called ad preferences that reveal potential interests of Facebook users” by researchers from the Universidad Carlos III de Madrid (Cabañas, Cuevas and Cuevas 2018). Algorithms carefully assign labels to users, creating unique profiles that inform advertisers about their interests and demographics. Often these labels contain sensitive information, such as sexual orientation or ethnic origin. Due to this practice, Spain fined Facebook 1.2 million EUR for the collection, storage and processing of such sensitive information for advertising. However, this problem affects more than just Spanish people. Researchers have exposed that 73% of Facebook users within the European Union have been profiled with sensitive personal data, which constitutes roughly 40% of the total EU population (ibid). Facebook has created ad preferences predicated on sensitive, legally protected information are exposed to severe privacy liabilities given their identities could easily be uncovered through cheap means like phishing attacks (ibid).