May 6, 2021

Privacy: “Unveiling and Quantifying Facebook Exploitation of Sensitive Personal Data for Advertising Purposes”

The following paper was recently presented at the 27th Annual USENIX Privacy Symposium in Baltimore.

An excellent summary is available from Adrian Colyer on his “Morning Paper” blog.

Title

Unveiling and Quantifying Facebook Exploitation of Sensitive Personal Data for Advertising Purposes

Authors

José González Cabañas
Department of Telematic Engineering, Universidad Carlos III de Madrid

Ángel Cuevas
Department of Telematic Engineering, Universidad Carlos III de Madrid

Rubén Cuevas
Department of Telematic Engineering, Universidad Carlos III de Madrid

Source

27th Annual USENIX Privacy Forum Website

Abstract

The recent European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) restricts the processing and exploitation of some categories of personal data (health, political orientation, sexual preferences, religious beliefs, ethnic origin, etc.) due to the privacy risks that may result from malicious use of such information. The GDPR refers to these categories as sensitive personal data.

This paper quantifies the portion of Facebook users in the European Union (EU) who were labeled with interests linked to potentially sensitive personal data in the period prior to when GDPR went into effect.

The results of our study suggest that Facebook labels 73% EU users with potential sensitive interests. This corresponds to 40% of the overall EU population. We also estimate that a malicious third party could unveil the identity of Facebook users that have been assigned a potentially sensitive interest at a cost as low as €0.015 per user. Finally, we propose and implement a web browser extension to inform Facebook users of the potentially sensitive interests Facebook has assigned them.

Direct to Full Text Paper
18 pages; PDF.

Direct to Presentation Slides
18 pages; PDF.

Direct to Summary Blog Post by Adrian Colyer

About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.

Share