First, I looked over the information I had provided to Facebook. There wasn't a lot of it, except for a few art-related hobbies and other things. I have never really seen a point in keeping up with my "info" page because no one really reads it anyway and if anyone I have on Facebook wanted to gather information about my interests, I hope they would just ask me in person (which here means posting on my wall, of course). The only area that I keep up to date is the music section, because it is linked to an application that tells me about upcoming concerts near me. Handy, right?
I made a list of all of these interests and miscellaneous things, and then I surfed Facebook with no real purpose but to take careful notice of which ads appeared on the sidebar. Here are my findings.
I don't know how I feel about this! I actually found some really cool links through these ads, like Modcloth Clothing, and a now-extinct indie dance game site LoudCrowd, but is this a misuse of the information we post on Facebook? Should the fact that our info is used in this way be more circulated? I didn't know about this until a month ago and I have been using Facebook for five years. Now that I think about it though, if I had been more observant, I might have been able to spot it. I remember once seeing an ad for a fashion surveying company, seeking females exactly my age. After my birthday passed, I saw the ad again, with the age changed to fit my new age. I have also been seeing a lot of formalwear ads, so I wonder if Facebook takes into account that I am a senior and assumes that I am shopping for a dress for May/June.
If you want to test this theory (as I have no proof...yet), try putting really obscure things into your Information and see what ads Facebook provides you with. Or better yet, make every single topic (activities, interests, music, books, etc.) the same thing (i.e. sauerkraut) and see how many ads come up with a relevancy to preserved German foods. Remember to report back!