When Facebook announced sweeping changes to its ad policy earlier this week, declaring that it will begin tracking its users’ off-site web browsing for its targeted advertising, it was easy to guess the move would stir up controversy. Indeed, privacy watchdogs have already responded negatively to the change, including Jeff Chester, executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy, when speaking with The Washington Post.
For its part, Facebook has said that the changes it has implemented are no different than the policies of several of its major competitors, including Twitter and Instagram. However, as Chester pointed out, Facebook is a much bigger site that is capable of collecting exponentially more user data. He also expressed dismay that the Federal Trade Commission would allow the policy change to go through, and vowed to discuss it with the government group at an upcoming meeting.
“It’s true that everybody is doing all of this, and that’s how the system works,” Chester told the Post. “But this is unprecedented. Given Facebook’s scale, this is a dramatic expansion of its spying on users… We are very unhappy that the FTC appears to have given Facebook the greenlight on this. This kind of expansion and a thumbs-up from the FTC makes a mockery of its privacy regulation.”
Thankfully, users will be able to opt-out of this new ad tracking when it rolls out. But, barring increased pressure on the FTC, it’s likely that Facebook’s new rule change is here to stay.