Facebook announced it will end Partner Categories, a feature that was released in 2013 that created a partnership between Facebook and major data brokers. Partner Categories allowed third-party data aggregators, such as Experian and Acxiom, provide clients with offline data which includes purchasing activity.
The data that Facebook has been collecting comes from data the company that it gets from users, such as Pages a User liked, and with information it receives from advertisers and is mixed with information from third-party providers. Facebook is no longer confident that it can safely use the third party data information.
The Product Marketing Director at Facebook, Graham Mudd, stated “We want to let advertisers know that we will be shutting down Partner Categories. This product enables third party data providers to offer their targeting directly on Facebook. While this is common industry practice, we believe this step, winding down over the next six months, will help improve people’s privacy on Facebook.”
However, Partner Categories is not what enabled Cambridge Analytica to access nearly 50 million Facebook profiles. In this case, the company was given data from a third-party app developer in violation of Facebook’s terms of service and without user knowledge or permission.
Facebook will continue to review their relationships with their partners and may start sharing data in a shared server environment in order to protect user privacy. The changes are expected to take place in the upcoming months.