How come Facebook’s tracking never gets my preferences correctly?

I don’t much care that Facebook is tracking me – and now “on and off Facebook through cookies”. But their analysis of whatever tracking they do is suspect. At least in my case, the tracking analysis does not seem to be very effective (or even intelligent).

Facebook cookie monster

Facebook’s choice of “top stories” – which seems to be their enforced default condition – never matches what I would consider top stories on my news feed. I keep switching back to “most recent” and what I get is something close to – but not exactly – the most recent posts (or comments). Some posts are suppressed and some are elevated. In this age where they are supposedly tracking my every move, why cannot they manage something as simple as just following a time stamp? It is pretty clear that their over-complicated, over-sophisticated algorithms cannot leave well alone. Why must they always try to “add value” (and fail) by revising time?

For the last 5 days Facebook has been showing this irritating message

To help personalize content, tailor and measure ads, and provide a safer experience, we use cookies. By clicking or navigating the site, you agree to allow our collection of information on and off Facebook through cookies. Learn more, including about available controls: Cookies Policy.

As the WSJ points out, Facebook is trying to show an increased “value” to its advertisers (presumably to fool them into paying higher rates). Personally I thin the advertisers would be throwing their money away. The pages that Facebook suggests for me are very, very rarely of any relevance – or even of interest – for me. I cannot remember ever having clicked on an advertisement on Facebook. I don’t suppose I am in the main target group for Facebook advertisers, but surely the much-touted sophistication of their algorithms can do better. I am not especially impressed by the quality of the selections made for me.

I find Google ads are much more closely aligned to my interests. In any search for news stories, I always ignore the first few paid-for references. They are invariably low quality stories. But I have been known to click – not very often but a few times – on their ads. Ads on WordPress sites are generally very relevant to the main story (interspersed with regular ads for porn sites but these are easy to ignore).

I suspect that Facebook are claiming far more for their algorithms and their capability of selection of target audiences than they can actually achieve. (That they do suppress news they don’t like is now pretty well proven).


Facebook has set out to power all advertising across the Internet.

To that end, the social network and online advertising company said Thursday it will now help marketers show ads to all users who visit websites and applications in its Audience Network ad network. Previously Facebook only showed ads to members of its social network when they visited those third-party properties.

The change is a subtle one, but it could mean Facebook will soon help to sell and place a much larger portion of the video and display ads that appear across the Internet. The change will also intensify competition with Alphabet Inc. subsidiary Google, which dominates the global digital-advertising market, and a wide range of other online ad specialists.

“Publishers and app developers have some users who aren’t Facebook users. We think we can do a better job powering those ads,” said Andrew Bosworth, vice president of Facebook’s ads and business platform.

But my advice to Facebook advertisers would be to double check any claims Facebook makes about how well they are able to select their target audiences. From the little I have seen, they are not particularly good.

All I really want is that my news feed follow the fundamental time-stamp and that “most recent” gives me the most recent posts – without suppression of some and elevation of others. Google seems to know my mind better than Facebook does.


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