The older I get, the less I post on Facebook. I still recall memories of posting my every interaction, every picture in the timeline of my life. Now on the occasional search, my home page typically has three things: political fights between 20-somethings, overshared Buzzfeed articles, and the occasional “I said yes” photo.
But recently, I’ve been seeing an advertisement for a specific product that I’ve never seen before, “Team Weaver” t-shirts by the company teespring.com. At first I thought- wow this is cool, an advertisement that directly targets me. Yet the more I think about it, the creepier and more invasive it gets.
Facebook has been specifically designed to promote personal brands by the things you post, share, and tag on your profile.
Sheryl Sandberg, the Chief Operating Officer at Facebook, says this in her 2010 post titled The Role of Advertising on Facebook:
“Because our system chooses which ads to show you, we don’t need to share any of your personal information with advertisers in order to show you relevant ads. In order to advertise on Facebook, advertisers give us an ad they want us to display and tell us the kinds of people they want to reach. We deliver the ad to people who fit those criteria without revealing any personal information to the advertiser”
As a Facebook user, you sign a specific contract allowing Facebook to store you information and have it readily accessible when needed, but if what Sheryl is saying is true about designing ads targeted the information on my profile, I would think that the ads for Affordable Windows, Arizona Summit Law School, and TaxAct wouldn’t make their way to my home page. Yet I do agree, adding Dominos in there was spot on.
Fast forward a few years since Sheryl made that statement, and this article for The New York Times states that Facebook is now going outside sources of data to learn even more about them — and to sell ads that are more finely targeted to them. A few of those sources include Acxiom which focuses on public information such as federal government documents and court records, while Datalogix and Epilson claims to have a database of spending habits of everything from which brand of toilet paper you buy to your Netflix obsession.
Although Facebook assures users that their personal information is completely anonymous, I still feel uneasy about the amount of data that is stored about me and my personal life, but I guess that’s the price we pay for living in a tech savvy generation that pushes consumerism.
So what about you, do you think Facebook’s use of outside companies is only a stepping stone to further boundaries pushed in order to play match maker with the perfect product? Or do you trust Facebook, and say it’s all for the good of the consumer? Either way, with advancements in technology like this, they’re bound to find more ways to get these ads to you in the future.
Facebook advertisements are inevitable. I am more aware of the advertisements I see on Facebook as I become a more intelligent consumer of social media. I purposely do not “like” a lot of things on Facebook. My interests, movies, music, etc. are all blank. For me, if someone truly wants to get to know me they should have a conversation with me, not just find out in my “About Me” section. Yet, I still find that Facebook uses what I post, click on, and “like” on others’ comments to generate ads. For example, about a week ago my friend posted a link from Groupon that was selling iPhone 5 Otterbox defender cases for $14.99. I clicked on her link, I liked what I saw, and I purchased a case. I thought that was the end of it, but then I started seeing Groupon ads in my news feed and along the right side of the page. This has happened to me on several other occasions. It is more annoying than anything else.
I do not like that Facebook is collaborating with Acxiom to generate a profile on me. However, there is nothing I can do about it. Without reading closely the terms and policies of Facebook I accept, as with all terms and policies. I think it is important to keep in mind that everything I do on Facebook, or any website is logged and noted. Everything I search in Google is documented, every video I watch, etc. I will have an issue with Facebook and Acxiom having a profile about me if it is used to harm me in some way. However, I cannot stop them from sending advertisements my way. I just need to continue to be a smart consumer of advertisements and social media.