According to the Wall Street Journal, many web retailers are pushing back against Facebook’s plan to track user data across the Internet. Experts have seen less data flowing from websites to Facebook, which suggests that they’ve taken steps to limit the information given to the site.
Many websites are concerned about Facebook’s data tracking, as it could give the site an unfair advantage when it comes to advertising to users. Facebook could hypothetically use a company’s data to identify the interests of a consumer and sell them products from that company’s competitors. Other websites track users, too, of course, but the difference is that Facebook is able to pair a user’s browsing information with all of the other personal info they’ve provided, like their actual names, interests, hobbies and more. According to Facebook, it hasn’t used data from other websites yet, and when it does it will offer publishers an opt-out feature. Still, major web retailers have a right to be concerned.
Facebook began testing ways for users to directly buy products on the site this summer, and those capabilities are only going to expand over time. It’s a good thing other sites are concerned about Facebook having too much information, because users should be, too. When most people signed up for Facebook, they had no idea it would one day become such a massive data hub and advertising hot spot. Now that big dollars are on the line, maybe other online giants can limit Facebook’s reach.