Police in Belgium have told citizens that using Facebook’s Reactions suite could compromise their privacy.
After years of offering only the Like button as a way of reacting to a post, Facebook introduced six new Reactions this year. Many users had asked for a Dislike button, but the social media giant decided to offer a range of different reactions instead, writes Andrew Griffin for The Independent.
Belgians warned to stay away from Facebook Reactions
However Belgian police claim that far from offering a simple way of showing your feelings on a post, Facebook is using Reactions to gather information on your mood. The social network later uses this information to inform which adverts to show to you, say police, who have warned against using the buttons.
“The icons help not only express your feelings, they also help Facebook assess the effectiveness of the ads on your profile,” a post on Belgian’s official police website reads.
Police claim that Facebook is able to work out when certain users are most likely to be in a good mood, and show them adverts around this time.
“By limiting the number of icons to six, Facebook is counting on you to express your thoughts more easily so that the algorithms that run in the background are more effective,” the post continues. “By mouse clicks you can let them know what makes you happy.”
Advertisers stand to benefit from data collection
“So that will help Facebook find the perfect location, on your profile, allowing it to display content that will arouse your curiosity but also to choose the time you present it. If it appears that you are in a good mood, it can deduce that you are more receptive and able to sell spaces explaining advertisers that they will have more chance to see you react.”
Many people have highlighted the usefulness of Reactions for advertisers. It provides valuable data to Facebook about how certain subjects make people feel. Reactions also encourages people to maintain high levels of engagement with the site.
Interestingly posting an angry reaction is treated in the same way as other reactions. This means that you will be shown similar content if you react angrily, whereas you might prefer to not see things that make your blood boil.