Facebook Gives Users Insight on Why They Get Specific Ads and News

Written by Bill Toulas
Last updated July 12, 2021

Facebook users are served with suggestions of news stories every time they visit their favorite social media, and it’s common knowledge that the platform uses a set of algorithms to determine what news are the best for each person out there. The “News Feed” is personalized and tailored to match our interests, but the intricacies of how this works under the hood remained a mystery. Facebook’s Product Manager, Ramya Sethuraman has announced the platform’s intention to lift the shroud with “Why am I seeing this post?”. This feature will enable people to understand why they are being served with a specific news story, and in addition to this, provide the capacity to set the parameters that determine the News Feed, essentially giving them more control on the news ranking.


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Similarly, the ad serving experience will be boosted by an overhauled “Why am I seeing this ad?” tool. Based on the experience that Facebook gathered since 2014 when they first released this tool, they have decided to expand what they share with users, allowing them to better understand how ads are selected and targeted to them. Simply tapping on posts or ads will display a set of explanations on “why you’re seeing it”, while a convenient preferences management shortcuts menu can be revoked right from that screen. Of course, these explanations are private, so users can only see what concerns their own feed.


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Not only does this provide deeper insight into how Facebook works, but it also gives users full control over their preferences. Unfollowing someone or changing the privacy settings was possible before as well, but allowing users to correlate these actions with how their News Feed, or ad serving works raises the level of user control to novel levels. It’s the general context that is determined with these new features, and without it, people would merely have to rely on guesswork.

One crucial part of the “Why am I seeing this ad?” tool is the expansion of the data that now relays back to the user. Previously, people would see their demographic details, interests, and website visits as explanatory factors. Now, they will get to know which advertiser has their data, how their Facebook profile matches specific market targeting frames, and how their data ended up to a particular advertiser following a path of partnership-based information sharing.

Are you pleased with the way Facebook is trying to get more transparent on how they handle the data they collect about you, or do you think we’re still far from what the platform should be like? Share your thoughts in the comments below, or on our socials, on Facebook and Twitter.

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