Technology and Business Law Blog

Facebook’s Ad Platform

Privacy issues are the most common topics of concern and discussion in the online world. The latest of-course is Facebook pushing the envelope with its plans of allowing businesses to target ads to users of the site. Facebook has a built in captive audience of thousands of people ranging from teens to senior citizens now that the site is open to all ages, so companies have access to this ready made eye balls and it is an irresistible chance to market their products.

Major companies like Coco-Cola, CBS Corp etc have signed up for the Facebook ad paltform. According to Facebook’s CEO Zukerberg, companies can advertise on their own profile page on Facebook as well as spread messages “virally” by linking ads to recommendations or newsfeeds members send to each other. Facebook further said that when people visit companies website to buy things or write names that information will be spread to their friends at the website.

Facebook is using the users of the site to market products of other companies and make money in the process without any of the profit making its way into the users pocket. The company will be leveraging the network created by its users for a totally different purpose of social interaction to a large extent based on trust, so it is a powerful marketing strategy without the companies having to spend tons of dollars like they do in traditional marketing.

The problem now is that  these outside companies will target the audience based on the personal information provided by Facebook to these outside companies about the particular Facebook user without the site users permission and this raises issues of privacy and the legality of it. The new advertising system will target ads based on personal information shared by users with their friends. This methodology is invading privacy for commercial purposes of Facebook and the site users whose information Facebook already has collected over the years is being compiled and sold without the site users consent. It also reeks of unethical practices since when these users joined Facebook they  were not told or given the chance to opt out and state that their personal information like interests, relationship status, work history etc should not be used.


November 10, 2007 Posted by | Facebook, privacy, Unethical conduct | Leave a comment