Facebook “Accidentally Outing Gay Users”
I came across this article today, called “Facebook ‘accidentally outing gay users’ to outside firms through targeted ads“, which I thought was kind of interesting, simply because this use of demographic targeting as a method of advertising has been used for years now. As an advertiser on Facebook Ads, it’s a no brainer that you can target your ad campaigns to an insanely specific demographics, and “sexual preference” being one of them. Obviously, if you are advertising to “Males” and their preference is set at “Males”… then one might correctly assume they are gay, so advertising “Gay” dating campaigns (for example) is an effective way to advertise to this demographic. It’s really no different than other demographic, single, married, etc. Apparently this is new to the rest of the world however and note worthy of a story about privacy protection.
The articles goes on to say “The discovery could mean that people who wish to keep their sexuality private may be sharing it with advertisers without their knowledge.“. However, I would think if this was the case, and people were concerned about their sexual preference being known to others… why post that information to Facebook in the first place… it’s only the largest social network in the world?
I understand in light of the recent news stories on cyber bullying, having your privacy protected is important, and it’s now in the news more than ever after the tragic Tyler Clementi story, where a Rutgers student, committed suicide after having a video released of his sexual encounter.
I was actually at Rutgers today and spoke with a few students and was explaining to them about how the advertisements on Facebook work, and how what you see as an advertisement is strictly based on your demographics and interests. Many of them were completely ignorant of this and were blown away when told. They had no idea that the demographic information they voluntarily provided to Facebook actually drove the ads they saw. Even though it should be so very obvious to the user at some points. Change your status to “engaged”, and all you will see are ads based on weddings, gowns and wedding planning. The same holds true for many other demographic/status changes.
What seems like simple knowledge to us (Internet marketers), that being targeting users by demographics, and using that targeting information to provide the user a better experience by focusing information on topics they are most interested in, this appears to be foreign to the everyday user that willingly provides their demographic details in the first place.
Bottom line is… while targeting to demographics is as old as marketing itself, the Internet marketing world is a whole new world to the user we market to. What are your thoughts on this article and targeting towards demographics, and is the information Facebook allows it’s advertisers to target to actually a privacy issue?
To serve personalized advertising to you. We don’t share your information with advertisers without your consent. (An example of consent would be if you asked us to provide your shipping address to an advertiser to receive a free sample.) We allow advertisers to choose the characteristics of users who will see their advertisements and we may use any of the non-personally identifiable attributes we have collected (including information you may have decided not to show to other users, such as your birth year or other sensitive personal information or preferences) to select the appropriate audience for those advertisements. For example, we might use your interest in soccer to show you ads for soccer equipment, but we do not tell the soccer equipment company who you are. You can see the criteria advertisers may select by visiting our advertising page. Even though we do not share your information with advertisers without your consent, when you click on or otherwise interact with an advertisement there is a possibility that the advertiser may place a cookie in your browser and note that it meets the criteria they selected.
How much responsibility does the user have to be aware of how information they provide may be used? Nothing “accidental” with this privacy issue, it’s all out in the open if one bothers to read it.
Bottom line #2: In every case, be an informed user…… what are your thoughts?
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