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A little-known feature lets you see if Facebook thinks you're liberal or conservative

Advertising Week New York 2016 - Day 2
Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg
Photo by Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images for Advertising Week New York

You’ve probably never told Facebook whether your politics are liberal, conservative, or something else. But that doesn’t mean that Facebook doesn’t have an opinion about where you sit on the political spectrum. And there’s a simple way to find out what it is.

Facebook classifies people ideologically to help it sell ads. Some advertisers might want to only target people who are interested in conservative or liberal politics. And the site is admirably transparent about how it classifies users. You can go to the ads preferences page to see the many ways Facebook has categorized you.

In my case, for example, Facebook thinks I’m interested in books and the Supreme Court, and that I’m a new parent — all correct inferences. It also puts me in the “US politics (liberal)” category. I wouldn’t exactly describe myself as a conventional liberal, and I’ve never told Facebook I was liberal. But I do have a lot of liberal friends, and I sometimes like their posts, which is probably how Facebook’s software drew that conclusion.

If you tend to read and like more conservative content on Facebook, you’re likely to see a “US politics (conservative)” category on that page. Users with a mix of liberal and conservative behaviors might see “US politics (moderate).”

If Facebook miscategorized you, or you just don’t like the idea of the social media giant putting you in a political box, you can remove the US politics category from your list of interests. That should stop Facebook from targeting you with ads based on your presumed political affiliation.