Social media giant Facebook is to halt using data from third-party data providers to help improve and “clean up” its own data set for ad targeting.

Under the form of Partner Categories, the social media platform previously allowed third-party data aggregators such as Experian and Acxiom to provide advertisers with offline data, such as purchasing activity, to inform its own ad targeting

The move to close down Partner Categories comes amid Facebook’s fallout from the controversial Cambridge Analytica Data Privacy Scandal, which saw the data analytics firm use personal data from more than 50 million Facebook profiles to target US voters with personalised political ads during the presidential election.

As part of a broader public effort to clean up its data practices, Facebook’s product marketing director, Graham Mudd, said that while the use of third-party data in ad targeting is “common industry practice, we believe this step, winding down over the next six months, will help improve people’s privacy on Facebook.”

“A world without walls”

In response to the changes, CEO of Acxiom, Scott Howe, commented that marketers each have a responsibility when it comes to data usage and that everyone should strive for a transparent, ethical playing field that doesn’t bias choice or opportunity.

“Our world is becoming more data-driven with each passing day. Thousands of companies rely on ethically-sourced third-party data to better serve their customers and have done so for decades,” he said.

Alluding to Facebook’s decision, Howe said “now is not the time to make walls thicker or higher.”

With data use and consumer privacy top of the agenda for marketers ahead of the General Data Protection Regulation next month (May 25), Howe highlighted a number of areas for the industry to both adapt and benefit from the ongoing privacy updates, including seeking and integrating industry standards that apply to everyone equally and fairly.

“Marketers have more choices than ever and can reach consumers in thousands of places online, “ said Howe; “We remain committed to working with all parts of the ecosystem – ethically, openly, and transparently – to ensure consumers everywhere can benefit from the countless ways that data makes their lives easier and better.”