Facebook

Does Facebook Consider You a Liberal, Conservative, or Moderate?

Here's how to find out how the social-media giant classifies your politics for advertisers. And how to change its obvious mistakes!

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Nick Gillespie

It's no secret that Facebook, the planet's largest social-media platform, is constantly gathering intelligence on all its users. What, did you think all those "likes" were just going down the drain at the end of a long workday? Articles you share, shows you endorse, pages with which you interact—all of this is being filtered, collated, and used by Facebook. They sell this sort of "psychographic" data, along with demographic and geographic information, to advertisers and other users who want to reach particular audiences with particular messages, products, and the like. That's actually good news for those of us who are the recipients: Theoretcially, we're more likely to get news and offers for things about which we actually care.

Just in time for the final few months of the 2016 election, The New York Times spills the beans on how Facebook classifies us when it comes to politics. Try it out:

Go to facebook.com/ads/preferences on your browser. (You may have to log in to Facebook first.)

That will bring you to a page with your ad preferences. Under the "Interests" header, click the "Lifestyle and Culture" tab.

Then look for a box titled "US Politics." In parentheses, it will describe how Facebook has categorized you, such as liberal, moderate or conservative.

(If the "US Politics" box does not show up, click the "See more" button under the grid of boxes.)

Facebook makes a deduction about your political views based on the pages that you like — or on your political preference, if you stated one, on your profile page. If you like the page for Hillary Clinton, Facebook might categorize you as a liberal.

Even if you do not like any candidates' pages, if most of the people who like the same pages that you do — such as Ben and Jerry's ice cream — identify as liberal, then Facebook might classify you as one, too.

More information here.

Once you get there, you can also screw around with various preferences and access all sorts of other categorizations. Make as much mischief as you can. Or as little as you want. It's all good.

As a professional libertarian (yes, blargh) who spends way too much time clicking on articles (rants, in the best-case scenario) about economic regulation, lifestyle repression, drug policy reform, non-interventionism here and abroad, and more, I am of course mad as hell that I was originally classified as conservative. Then again, maybe I should just be relieved that Reason's Facebook page hasn't been disappeared (yet).

What did Facebook say you are? Come clean in the comments section.

And yes, the service should have a separate category just for libertarians. So should the broadcast and cable networks, the op-ed pages, and all the advertisers, hair salons, and supermarkets, too. Punish them all with market forces! And in the meantime, tweak the hell out of your Facebook preferences.

We're taking over, indeed, but why the hell is it taking so goddamn long?

NEXT: Michigan Marijuana Legalization Initiative Probably Won't Make Ballot

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  1. Some joker listed me as very conservative.

    1. Well to be fair, “very” is a pretty broad qualifier that could easily encompass both “ultra-” and “arch-” prefixes.

      1. When asked if I’m Liberal or Conservative, I usually go with “I’m way farther to the left than you are. And way farther to the right.” Or “I’m so conservative that it wraps around the other side and becomes extremely liberal. Either that or I’m so liberal that it wraps around the other side and becomes extremely conservative. ”

        That leaves them suitably confused. It is strange that such a consistent political philosophy should be so difficult for others to categorize.

        1. I’m listed as a moderate.

          1. Moderate here also. Which in Montgomery County Maryland might as well mean nazi.

    2. me too

      1. Your handle is “airforce” and you’re surprised your listed as conservative?
        Fwiw, my son is in AFROTC at The Peoples Republic of Berkeley (Cal), so I’ll bet he is listed as conservative too. He also likes country music!

    3. It’s all the gay porn cookies. Clear those out, you’ll get back to “progressive” faster than you can say “conversion therapy”.

      1. How did I not know until today that Chelsea Clinton’s alias was Diane Reynolds?

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  2. Mine comes up “Liberal” which I’ll take to mean “Classically Liberal” and be happy with that. But in reality I only use FB for interaction with friends and family these days. I keep my politics quarantined to Twitter as every red blooded American should.

    1. I assumed my “very conservative” meant libertarian but not libertine so I’m cool! =)

    2. If you click on it to see ads that are examples of what it will wind up serving, you get “We don’t have examples of this kind of ad to show right now.” which is weird, as I’d be expecting Hillary ads.

      1. And here we go, I got a targeted ad tonight for a NYT post about how Democrats are the real patriots and Republicans secretly hate America

    3. I was never tempted to have anything whatsoever to do with Farcebook. It is clearly a lowest-denominator dragnet for dupes unable to build websites but eager to “be” online. Anything so complex as TWO for-or-against divisions on as abstract a distinction as religious laws versus economic regulations is up there with relativistic quantum mechanics, or at least the dimensions of units that measure work and energy. Keep in mind that Liberal was a nice word before Hitler & Herb Hoover turned it into an epithet on the wagging tongues of Christian National Socialists.

  3. In that pane, I have The LP and that’s it for political things.

    (If the “US Politics” box does not show up, click the “See more” button under the grid of boxes.)

    US Politics box not there, and neither is a “See More” button.

    If you use Facebook without Ghostery, Adblock plus, a modified hosts file, and the Facebook Purity plugin, then you get what you deserve.

    1. The sole entry in my Education Interests pane is Classical Liberalism. So that’s good.

      1. Also, I use an outdated version of Chromium (NOT Chrome) ONLY for Facebook. Sort of a poor man’s honeypot.

        My main browser for everything else is Firefox.

    2. If you use Facebook without Ghostery, Adblock plus, a modified hosts file, and the Facebook Purity plugin, then you get what you deserve.

      FTFY

    3. What modifications would you make to the hosts file?

      1. I originally downloaded a pretty aggressive one years ago.

        I believe it may have come from here

  4. It has me down as a moderate. I am guessing it’s just because I don’t like any political pages. It seems to be a very shallow system with very little real data mining behind it. I’d imagine they have to have more comprehensive data behind the scenes.

    1. Likewise. The good news is we won’t get sent to “camp” until HRC’s second term.

  5. As a professional libertarian (yes, blargh)

    A clearer example of lighting the Mike M. signal I cannot imagine.

  6. It has me as ‘not otherwise specified’.

    That is, if I were on Facebook.

    What’s a facebook?

    1. I’m still trying to figure out how you guys have internet in your igloos.

  7. Nick,
    We all know you wanted to be a liberal. Hugs.

    1. Time makes conservatives of us all.

      1. Time Experience makes conservatives of us all.

  8. Facebook probably considers me evil, vile scum for not being their “customer.” They’ll sidle up and whisper in my ear anyway “why don’t you try Facebook? Why won’t you be our chattel, to be bought and sold at our whim. C’mon, it doesn’t take but a minute to sign up. What could it hurt?”

    1. >What could it hurt?
      That is rhetorical, of course. I’ll answer anyway: my dignity and privacy.

  9. Facebook thinks its studying me, but really, I’m studying Facebook.

    1. You just think that.

      1. Who watches the watchers watching the watchers?

  10. OT: To mitigate climate change, we need to go back to a simpler time.

    How about… 1830?

    Nope, further back than that.

    The new study, just out on Wednesday in the journal Nature, suggests human-caused, or anthropogenic, climate change has been going on for decades longer than existing temperature records indicate. Using paleoclimate records from the past 500 years, the researchers show that sustained warming began to occur in both the tropical oceans and the Northern Hemisphere land masses as far back as the 1830s ? and they’re saying industrial-era greenhouse gas emissions were the cause, even back then.

    1. It will be funny when they discover even older warming, and blame that on humans, as well.

      1. “Actually finding that humans had a measureable impact on the climate in the mid 19th century was somewhat of a surprise,” Abram said. “It’s a finding that, no matter which way we tested, we kept coming up with that same answer.”

        What’d Scott say he learned in Journo-school? When you end the story in a quote, that’s what you want the reader to take away from the story?

        1. No matter what they did they just kept coming up with the same answer.

          Well, thats it then. There is no other explanation for this.

      2. It would be even funnier if older humans actually did cause it.

        Strangely there’s not been a lot of research on how paleolithic to agricultural man impacted the environment. I know some pretty dramatic changes in local ecosystems happened with the introduction of domesticated animals and agriculture. Mass deforestation around the globe to make way for farms has to have had an impact, but nobody’s really studied it. Europe’s been deforested for centuries. Mid-east for thousands of years. Some theorize that the Sahara desert was created by intensive agriculture (tho I think that’s been disproven). Contact between Europeans and N. American wrecked havoc for sure. Clovis people hunted Giant Sloths to extinction.

        1. I’ve read in a history book (therefore it is unquestionably true) that as recently as the 6th century AD, a messenger could still cross the Sahara desert on a horse. IOW, there were still enough oasises and watering holes that it hadn’t become camels-only yet.

        2. It started a long time before that Hazel. Vast expanses of land were burned off to maintain grasslands and thus access to buffalo and other migratory herbivores. This went on for millennia and produced greenhouse gases on par with what we see in some industrialized countries today.

          1. Burning grassland would not add substantial carbon to the cycle. It was sequestered within the last year, and would be re-sequestered as the grassland returned.

            This is in contrast with coal and oil which were sequestered millennia ago.

            1. I think they burned forests to create grassland. It is why “they” say there are now more trees in North America than when Columbus arrived.

              1. I think the net greenhouse on that one would be the buffalo farts

                1. Sure Cyto, blame your gas on buffalos. What? The dog doesn’t work anymore?

      3. “It will be funny when they discover even older warming, and blame that on humans, as well.”

        How prescient of you.

        http://archaeologyonline.net/artifacts/cambay

        ” Now, new findings by Indian scientists working in the Gulf of Cambay suggest that the Harappans were descended from an advanced mother culture that flourished at the end of the last Ice Age that was then submerged by rising sea levels before ‘history’ began.”

        Industrial production of clay tablets started the sea level rising.

      4. “It will be funny when they discover even older warming, and blame that on humans, as well.”

        Da White Malez did it.

      5. How many times do you suppose the thermal mass of the oceans has turned over since the discovery of fire ?

        Or if you don’t believe in fire, pointy sticks and sharp stones — not just agriculture , but stone age land management has thus far altered the reflectivity of half the land surface of the earth.

    2. Go back to 1775 and do things the right green way from there forward. I’m kinda surprised that they aren’t more blatant about it.

      1. While I haven’t read the study text (obviously) it absolutely has to be crap. And by crap, I mean utter bullshit. *pause*

        Even if you’re completely on board with Man Made Climate Change in the modern era, suggesting that we were measurably heating up a massive (and I mean massive!) Thermal Sink known as the goddamned ocean back in 1830 because a few Steam Engines were gaining in popularity in a few sparsely populated places around the globe is so rife for wild speculation, assumptions and data-fudging, it boggles the mind.

    3. Many bristlecone pines died to bring us this information. 🙁

    4. I think 1830 has been referred to as the end of “The Little Ice Age” In other words, it got really cold for awhile, then it started warming up again.

      1. I believe Mann makes that criticism. It happens to coincide with the end of a known cooling and this probably signaled that reversal. But the authors are just sure as shit it was because of the Steampunk iPhone.

        1. iSteamPhone. Way to fuck up that joke, douchebag.

          1. Zat you, Chelsea?

  11. They correctly pegged me as an anarchist. Now I understand why I see so many ads for asphalt and gravel suppliers, plus offers to buy or lease road construction and grading equipment.

    And I won’t even mention the ads I get from the Somalia Tourism Board.

  12. It has me down as “very liberal” even though I “liked” libertarian girl.
    Must be because I wrote “Fuck Trump” in too many comments.

  13. In my “Lifestyle & Culture” section, it has me as a “moderate” under “US Politics”, but also says I am interested in the Libertarian Party, Communism, and Anti-Comminism.

    So, I guess I’m a Libertarian Moderate Anti-Communist Comminist.

  14. Got conservative – unsurprising given my friend group is mostly either oil industry folks, Texans, or both.

  15. Has me as “liberal”, but my account is fake and somehow I got friended by a bunch of people from Terrorist-ey nations.

  16. I’m wondering if I’m marked liberal because basically all my friends are, or because that first fact means that whenever I call someone out on a bullshit politics post, it’s recording me posting on something pro-left wing

    1. You can only like. You cannot unlike.

      1. I’m not talking about liking, I’m talking about commenting

  17. I’m very liberal! Sweet! My subterfuge is working.

    1. Me too! “Very liberal”!!!

      I don’t post political sh1t on Derpbook, and just about everyone in my circle is very liberal. So Derpbook in all its derpiness assumed so.

      It was still a surprise.

  18. I got “very liberal,” but also under “lifestyle and culture” I got “libertarian socialism” and “anti-capitalism.” And under “hobbies and activities” they put “anarchism.” I’m kind of a Sheldon Richman type libertarian.

    1. I’m kind of a Sheldon Richman type libertarian.

      So, not much difference between you and Adam Lanza.

      1. That was pretty fucking harsh…but well played….

    2. You are disappointed that you missed out on being made a Janissary?

  19. So Facebook has 58 options for gender and three for political preferences? I guess we know who they’re afraid of, and it ain’t us.

    1. Wow, excellent catch.

      Oh, remember when facebook made screaming, national news coverage when one of their millennials changed the ‘friends’ icon to make the man standing in the shadow of the woman, because before it was the patriarchy? Why did anyone assume the figure with long hair was a woman?

    2. We’ve already read a number of posts from people who have other results beyond those three. So no.

  20. “Go to facebook.com/ads/preferences on your browser.
    (You may have to log in to Facebook first.)”

    No.

  21. Facebook? That thing my wife uses? Yeah, don’t care.

  22. “(You may have to log in to Facebook first.)”

    Well, there’s your problem right there.

    1. Ah, well, late to the party again…

  23. Haven’t used Facebook for several years, so no idea what they did with the obsolete profile I asked to have deleted but they just hid instead.

  24. I’m listed as a (Moderate).

    Probably because I’m not an asshole who posts political shit on Facebook.

  25. A moderate that is interested in communism and socialism… mostly only interested in their eradication. Nailed it, Facebook!

  26. I guess “hopes for a giant, population decimating meteor leading to an anarcho-capitalist utopia” equals “moderate” in Facebook’s eyes.

    1. Yeah, they don’t list SMOD on the things that advertisers are looking for

  27. I came up as a liberal

  28. Very conservative!

    Giggity!

    Is there a very very conservative to shoot for?

    I was truthfully hoping for “Satan Spawn”. Just have to work harder.

    1. If I go to McDonald’s in the morning, I usually order 1 Filet o’ Fish, 1 large sweet iced tea, and a 4-piece chicken mcnugget so that my total charge will come out to $6.66 (may vary in your state but NoVA has 6% sales tax)

      Hail Satan.

  29. Moderate!? I’m not moderate on any policy.

    1. Maybe it’s a verb.

  30. Funny, I’m a Libertarian and my interests will not stop loading in Chrome or Explorer. Facebook must not want me tinkering with their cash cow.

  31. I unfriended Facebook…twice. No third time for me. Fuck that gaping invasion of privacy, group-think shithole.

  32. Liberal here. I guess liking Reason, IJ, FEE, Gary Johnson, Milton Friedman, etc. and listing “Libertarian” under my political views is not enough…

  33. I purposely stay away from posting political stuff on FB, but somehow it had me listed as Liberal, and even better, one of my interests was the “Italian Communist Party”….. WTF?

  34. It has me listed as Very Liberal, but also has me interested in the New York Republican State Committee (I live in California). My progressive friends would be very surprised to hear that I’m Very Liberal.

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  37. It doesn’t have me classified as anything, just my LP like, but I may have deleted whatever it was previously. It does, however, say it shows me ads related to “Homo Sapiens.” Um… isn’t that ANY human ad?

  38. Facebook thinks I’m liberal, yet I got tagged for “nationalism” – how does THAT work?

    I’m going to start posting things from National Review, Duffel Blog, Fox, Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Alex Jones and various Tea Party sites all the time with comments like “YEEEEEH!!! GET SOOOOOME!” and other like-comments, but with very poor grammar. If it still marks me as “Liberal,” then we’ll know…. then we’ll know….

    My hypothesis: It will still mark me liberal and feed me liberal screed because that’s what all the cool kids are doing.

    The potential downside to this is that I’ll probably be left with about 4 facebook friends when all is said and done. This will be a venture for science…but at what cost!? AT WHAT COOOST!?

  39. I’m listed as a liberal.

    They must mean classical liberal. I hope.

  40. Apparently Facebook considers me a “Moderate”. I think that is short hand for “we don’t know what the F*** you are so we are going to lump you into meaningless group to lessen the chance of litigation.” Anyone who knows me can tell you I am anything but moderate in my views. I am also neither Conservative or Liberal. I am one of the many people who refuses to fit into the political dichotomy others try to force on us. If they had said “Independent”, that I could relate to. “Moderate” is just insulting.

  41. It has me listed as moderate.

  42. What’s “Facebook”?

  43. Farcebook may be using “liberal” in its pre-Hitler & Herbert Hoover meaning, which was not hostile to libertarian views. All of these deep pocket corporations are gutless cowards terrified of looter lawsuits, hence of anything intellectual or that involves values. It’s kinda hard to fault them. Every misstep invites hordes of censors and thieves to gorge on their financial veins via the parasitical courts. Surely this is as damaging as deliberately feeding the parasites and helping their tribe increase.

  44. Conservative

  45. No joke: According to the Ad Preferences page, I am interested in

    1. Libertarianism
    2. Objectivism
    3. Rand Paul (ok, this needs updating, I admit!))
    4. Civil Liberties
    5. Secularism
    6. Criticism of Religion
    7. Scientific Skepticism
    8. The Liberal Party (UK)
    9. Anticommunism

    and, yet, in US politics, I am VERY conservative. Apparently their classification schema is not subject to internal coherence considerations!

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