Facebook survives and thrives on data: all the bits and pieces it collects about you, your friends and all of the nearly 2 billion people who use it. In reality, all that content you read and find on Facebook isn’t free. You’re just not paying cash for it. Instead, you’re trading information for it, which some people are fine with, but if you’re reading this post, you’re probably wondering just how much they know about you. Thankfully, it’s possible to find out.

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Facebook has you pegged

Advertisers pay for more than just space on the social network; they also pay for access to all that data the company has collected on its users. Facebook has managed to boost the return on investment for its advertisers by ensuring that that their ads aren’t just going out into cyberspace alone to die. The way it does this is by matching their ads with the users who are most likely to be interested in whatever they are selling.

As such, the company has to pigeonhole users based on the content they’ve liked or shared, the groups they belong to, and various activities they do while on its network. As Facebook collects data, it enters users into categories such as Parents or those having a birthday in a particular month. The social network even collects information on the operating systems, devices, and even web browsers that are used by us.

So if you think it’s scary that the company wants to read your mind, perhaps what’s even scarier is that it already does, in a way.

How to see what Facebook has on you

Generally, we all go through life not even aware of what big companies know about us, and in Facebook’s case, this is certainly true, although it is possible to see some of what they know in your ad profile. You can find it at this link and then go to Your Information and then Your Categories to see where you’ve been pigeonholed.

You might be surprised to see how closely the social network has you pegged (or maybe not). For fun, you can try deleting all the categories, but all that does is cause the ads you see to become random rather than focused in those categories. You can also change your ad settings, but pretty much anything you do here will generally make the ads you see more random. The only thing you can do to stop seeing ads on Facebook is to stop using it.

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