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Saturday, July 25, 2009

Privacy: Facebook Does It Again with Advertising

This has been making it's rounds on Facebook, but I thought I would post it here for a little broader exposure in case you have not had the chance to see it yet. Basically, Facebook and their lack of privacy respect for their members strike again.

Here is the status updates that are making their rounds on Facebook:

Facebook has agreed to let third party advertisers use your posted pictures without you having to "opt in". To change click "Settings" up at the top near the "Logout" link. Select "Privacy Settings". Then select "News Feed and Wall". Next, select the tab that reads "Facebook Ads". In the drop down box, select "No One". Then save your changes. Do it now. Post this in your status


What Facebook has done here and by default enables if for any social actions you take (including posting photos) to be used in Facebook advertising to you and your friends. Which means, they are trying to make the ads more "relevant" by taking your actions and pairing it with advertisements in order to get people to "take action" or click on ads. Never mind that you may not know or agree with the product or service being advertised.

Do you really want to show up in an ad for a friend that says "Overweight", "Quit Smoking", or "Get a Flat Stomach in 30 days"? Me either.

So, I followed the directions and came across the text below when saving the settings on my Facebook page, which confirms the status posts:
Facebook occasionally pairs advertisements with relevant social actions from a user's friends to create Facebook Ads. Facebook Ads make advertisements more interesting and more tailored to you and your friends. These respect all privacy rules. You may opt out of appearing in your friends' Facebook Ads below.


Here's a screen shot of how it should look after you make the change:
Facebook occasionally pairs advertisements with relevant social actions from a user's friends to create Facebook Ads. Facebook Ads make advertisements more interesting and more tailored to you and your friends. These respect all privacy rules. You may opt out of appearing in your friends' Facebook Ads below.

Why did I choose to remove the setting and opt out? One, in the first place -- Facebook never asked me any questions. Secondly, there is nothing in it for me -- how do I control which ads I appear in -- what if they are products or brands I do not support or agree with -- that list of questions goes on and on. In the end, there is no real benefit for you or me the end user to keep the settings.

Is there a case where I would think about it? Very possibly.

If Facebook really wants to get creative -- what they could have done is given users a potential "cut" of the advertisements they appear in when action is taken and allow them to control the types of product or services that would be shared. Now that would be interesting....

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