When I last logged into Facebook there was a big info box called “About Ads.” I clicked on it and found this:
Is it true that Facebook sells my name and contact info to make money?
No. Facebook does not sell your personal information.
Facebook makes its money from showing you ads.
In other words, Facebook uses your personal information to sell ads. Which is exactly what Google does and every other advertiser on the planet.
Which is fine because this website survives by selling ads, but the next section reveals how Facebook is taking things a step farther.
Your name or profile picture might appear alongside certain types of ads and sponsored stories:
1. Facebook Ads
A business creates an ad to promote its message. If you’ve liked that business’s page, the story about you liking the page (including your name or profile photo) may be paired with the ad your friends see.
The last sentence reveals a lot about the latest in Facebook advertising. They are going beyond the basic ad “you should buy this” by adding you as a part of the advertisement “Steve bought this and you should too.” Here is that sentence again:
If you’ve liked that business’s page, the story about you liking the page (including your name or profile photo) may be paired with the ad your friends see.
It’s an innovative new strategy for advertising and may be the future (i.e. personalized ads) but Facebook needs to be honest about this. It’s not clearly identified on the page, nor even prominent. In fact, it’s not even a subject on the page, rather it is part of explaining another topic (Sponsored Stories).
For such a bold move, placing my picture next to an advertisers brand, Facebook is hurting themselves by hiding this information. Yes, ads do keep Facebook free and that is important, but trust is more important and they need to alert users to this practice.
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