Facebook has just sanctioned the stalking of every single one of its users by companies that wish to bombard them with advertisements and special offers. Reports suggest that the social media giant is tweaking its ad targeting methods, and will soon let paying companies use personal information such as emails and phone numbers to identify possible targets on its network.
This might sound like an outrageous breach of your privacy, but apparently it’s all above board. Facebook will only allow companies to use data that’s already in their possession – names, phone numbers and email addresses that previous customers have willingly handed over – to track down its users.
So like it or lump it, you’re going to be in dozens of company’s crosshairs if you regularly use Facebook and you like to purchase things online.
The development was first reported by InsideFacebook, who said that the new option for advertisers is already being beta tested. As well as using names, phone numbers and email addresses, companies will also be able to match the UID code generated when users install apps on their Facebook to their own records.
Facebook moved to allay user’s privacy concerns in a statement to the website TechCrunch, by explaining a little how the new targeted advertising product works.
Those businesses that wish to do so can upload an encrypted form of their customer databases to Facebook, complete with phone numbers, email addresses and user IDs. This data will then be compared to Facebook’s own encrypted records that it holds on you, matching up profiles with those on the company’s database.
What this all means is that neither Facebook nor the company can access each other’s data (that would be illegal), thus your ‘privacy’ is maintained.
Except of course, it isn’t really. Because companies that hold information about you will now be able to target you in a place where they previous couldn’t do so, using ads that you’re more likely to respond to.
Facebook say that the feature is already being tested, and will be made available to all advertisers as of next week.