Facebook Begins Mining Users’ Data for Paid Advertisements

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We’ve all known about targeted marketing for a while now – type something into a search engine, and if it’s a marketable product, soon you’ll be seeing ads for it all across your browser. Now, however, social networking giant Facebook is looking to take that one step further. The privately held company founded by Mark Zuckerberg will now be tracking activity of profiles, status updates, wall posts, messages, and “likes,” in order to target ads even more closely to the site’s users, according to an article in the LA Times.

For example, women who have recently gotten engaged and told Facebook about it should expect to see advertisements for local caterers, florists, wedding planners, and more.

Privacy experts say that Facebook’s unique ability to mine data and sell advertising based on what the site’s members voluntarily share is “electronic eavesdropping” – sharing data that many users only intended to share with friends.

Facebook says it does not disclose information that would allow advertisers to identify individual users, but filters the information based on geography, age, and specific interests. Still, some users don’t like the new practices. One woman, Julee Morrison, says, “Facebook is reading my profile, my interests, the people and pages I am ‘friends’ with, and targeting me. It’s brilliant social media but it’s absolutely creepy.” She continues, “I thought, ‘Wait a minute, I didn’t give you permission to look into my life.’”

Some social media websites, like MyDot, are making the change into offering pay-as-you-go memberships (no month-to-month obligation!) to websites that are ad-free. Ad-free social networking allows users to keep their information much more private – even though Facebook says it does not release individual information, just demographics, the idea is still that your data is being mined so that they can profit. Switching to a paid site means that site doesn’t need advertising money – or your information.

Disclosure: LotsOLoot.com is owned by GMRI, parent company of MyDot.

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