Facebook May Be Outing Gay Users

New research has revealed that Facebook might be outing gay users through targeted advertisements on the platform.

The study, which was conducted by Microsoft Research India and Max Planck Institute for Software Systems, informed that even if an individual has not posted his or her sexual orientation on the platform, advertisers still might be able to get that information and be able to release targeted ads.

For conducting the study, the researchers set-up six fake Facebook accounts, two for straight men, two for straight women, one for a gay man and another for a lesbian. The researchers observed that the profiles of straight men and women were targeted by ads for straight people, while gay men and lesbians were shown ads related to their sexual preference.

However, it was also found that gay men were targeted by neutral ads that did not belong to any sexual preference. These neutral ads also contained a slew of 'hidden' ads, which when clicked by the gay user, could immediately inform the company about his sexual preference.

“The danger with such ads, unlike the gay bar ad where the target demographic is blatantly obvious, is that the user reading the ad text would have no idea that by clicking it he would reveal to the advertiser both his sexual-preference and a unique identifier,” the study informs.