Are you a ‘multicultural millennial’? Tag yourself in Facebook’s insane political ad document
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Are you a ‘multicultural millennial’? Tag yourself in Facebook’s insane political ad document


Like Kardashians?
Like Kardashians?

Image: STEPHEN LAM/GETTY IMAGES

There are 14 political ideologies in Facebook’s world.

Like the Kardashians and cannabis reform? You could be one of 20.1 million “Multicultural Millennials” on Facebook. Are you a suburban mom who supported Mitt Romney? You may be within “Small Town America.” 

Facebook created 14 categories across the political ideology spectrum and segmented its U.S. users among them, according to a document obtained by BuzzFeed News and shared with advertisers during the 2016 election. Facebook doesn’t require its massive user base to disclose their political beliefs, but it knows them regardless — or at least makes assumptions. 

Here’s a rundown of the categories:

Very Liberal 

  • Youthful Urbanites – 10.2 million 

  • Transitionals – 3.4 million 

  • Politically Engaged City Dwellers – 15 million 

Liberal

  • Politically Engaged Adults – 10.2 million

  • Multicultural Millennials – 20.1 million

  • Mainstream Millennials – 9.3 million 

Moderate 

Conservative

  • Diverse Parents – 18.4 million

  • Traveling Baby Boomers – 6.8 million

  • Small Town America – 5.7 million

  • Millennial Country Culture – 484,000

Very Conservative 

  • Post Grad Nest Builders – 11.3 million

  • Family Values – 4.2 million

  • The Great Outdoors – 7.3 million

Which one are you? Facebook won’t tell you exactly, but it does let users see which of the 5 political ideologies they fall under via an “ad preferences” page introduced in August 2016. Users can try to guess their sub-segments based on the other information Facebook shared in the document. For example, users in Facebook’s largest segment “Multicultural Millennials” are interested in football, vegas cuisine, and the Kardashians. 

Facebook’s sophisticated ad targeting is well known among those in the advertising and tech communities. But the system has received more mainstream attention and scrutiny since Facebook disclosed Russian-affiliated accounts purchased ads during the 2016 election. On Wednesday, Facebook along with Google and Twitter representatives will testify to U.S. Congress on the use of their platforms during the 2016 election. 

Lawmakers like Sen. Mark Warner of the Senate Intelligence Committee have been advocating for more transparency from the tech companies. Earlier this month, Sen. Warner co-sponsored a bill called the “Honest Ads Act” that would require internet companies to keep a public database of who is paying for political ads on their networks.

Jenna Golden, formerly Twitter’s senior sales manager for politics and advocacy, shared that sentiment for lack of breaking news but importance for more transparency in a series of tweets Monday:

For the Trump campaign, Facebook was a key component to their victory. Trump’s digital director Brad Parscale has heralded Facebook for helping them win. Now, after the revelations with Russian interference via the platforms, Facebook is under the microscope to prevent any malpractice going forward. 

According to a Facebook spokesperson, the 14 segments are no longer available.

“We typically help marketers across all verticals understand audiences this way, and we briefly used this framework to help inform how a small number of marketers built their campaigns,” a Facebook spokesperson wrote in an emailed statement to Mashable

But the document does provide interesting data and more knowledge on how the platform operated during the 2016 election. For example, Facebook listed “Obama” as an interest for the segments Youthful Urbanites, Transitionals, and Mainstream Millennials. “Bernie” was listed as an interest for Politically Engaged City Dwellers, Politically Engaged Adults, and Mainstream Millennials.

Among the other notable interests: “anti-Obama,” which was listed under Small Town America. There was no interest for “anti-Hillary,” “anti-Bernie,” or “anti-Trump.” 

As to Facebook’s user base, the Multicultural Millennials category was the only one broken into smaller segments. The category had an estimated 2.3 million are Hispanic, 540,000 African American, and 511,000 Asian American. Facebook doesn’t require users to share ethnicity, but the platform is able to make these assumptions based on user activity. 

Facebook’s level of ad targeting is incredible, just ask anyone who’s ever purchased an ad on the platform. Going forward those far-ranging abilities could change. 

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October 30, 2017
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