Facebook's Targeted Advertising – Creepy or Cool?

FacebookLogo2If you find yourself worrying that the ads on the left side of your Facebook page are getting far too psychic, don’t worry, it’s just Facebook testing out its new ad features. The social networking site has given a whole new dimension to the term ‘targeted ads’. Before, it was our likes that influenced the kind of ads that would appear on our page. Now, however, Facebook is going to take into account our status updates. So, if you post something like “I need some new clothes!”, don’t be surprised to see a clothing ad appear on your screen next.

About the new update

The new update has not actually been implemented yet. It’s currently in its baby stages and is just being tested on a measly 1% of Facebook users – which is, oh, only about 5 million people. Before, Facebook only used a person’s profile information to create targeted ads. For example, if you say in your profile that you live in Seattle and like sushi, then ads for the nearest sushi joint in your place are likely to appear on your page. But now, they’re making the ad feature even more powerful. Facebook’s not only going to look into your likes and your interests, it’s also going to look at your status updates. Anything you post could have a bearing on the ads that appear on your screen. So, even if you – for example – did not put Sushi in your list of likes but did post something along the lines of ‘I feel like eating some Sushi right now’, an ad could appear on your page suggesting that you do so.

Yay or Nay

As fascinating as this new feature is, however, what we want to know is how it affects the users. Does it, in any way, invade our privacy? Well, in a sense, the whole ‘real time ads’ feature seems a bit psychic, so it may seem quite creepy. However, there’s really not much to worry about. Facebook isn’t selling off your status updates to third parties and it’s just monitoring your status updates and not your chat logs. Instead, they’re acting as a sort of mediator. The companies hire Facebook for advertising, and Facebook delivers. It’s basically the same as the first roll out of the targeted ads idea, just faster and more deliberate. Now, when you’re at your most ‘vulnerable’, the ads come in. The choice is still with you. However, this situation does leave the issue of how much Facebook plans to use the data we put on the site. This may be a simple update and it may not be especially harmful, but then it is sort of invasive. The question now is: how much can the users take before they finally say stop and opt out of the social networking site? And by then, how much will we have given away to Facebook?

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