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Facebook is spying on Spaniards for political views ahead of election

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Facebook is spying on Spaniards for political views ahead of election
Photo: Karen Bleier / AFP.
14:41 CET+01:00
Facebook has admitted that it is tracking political opinions posted by Spaniards to gather data about the upcoming election.

About 21 million Spaniards are on Facebook and the social media giant said it has been keeping a close eye on their conversations in the run up to the general election on December 20th.

Facebook told a group of reporters that it intends to use the data gathered to understand the most important topics of the elections and what truly concerns the citizens, newspaper El Diario reported on Wednesday. 

The social network has already found 36 million interactions containing political content, between August 15th and October 31st.

"We will measure how many unique users engage in conversations related to the elections," Facebook representatives told reporters, adding that they will pay special attention to "commentary about the most relevant political themes and the candidates".

Facebook plans to distribute general information trends to journalists, and assured it would protect the anonymity of users.

The data will also be analyzed for location to determine geographical differences in what matters to voters.

Facebook insisted to reporters that the data gathered would not be used for commercial purposes and they will not use conclusions drawn from the data in advertising agreements with political parties.

"This is a decision totally independent from the advertising that political parties can place on this platform or any other," a spokesman told El Diario. "Facebook’s relationship with political parties is identical to what we have with the rest of our advertisers."

Data mining and sharing users’ political views is not new for Facebook. The company closed a deal last year with American media outlets ABC News and BuzzFeed to provide information about what users are saying for their 2016 election coverage.

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