PRIVACY SHREDDER Facebook is going into overdrive to convince its users that advertisers are their friends.
Realising that advertising and privacy concerns go hand in hand, Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg slipped into marketeer mode by making the rather grandiose claim that "We [Facebook] think making the world more personal and social is having a profound impact on the way we relate to the people, communities and institutions around us." Indeed, never before has so much personal information been so blatently up for grabs to the highest bidder than after the rapacious crew at Facebook got their paws on it.
Making the case for those who will make Facebook its billions, Sandberg continued by saying that "advertisers are social too". It wouldn't be advertising if companies were discreet about how they treated people, would it, Ms Sandberg?
Apparently the two 'bergs - Sand and Zucker - believe that "social advertising" will compliment how users use Facebook. Social advertising should be more accurately described as the culmination of personal data, preferences and habit collection methods, sold on the open market. Of course Facebook would prefer to label that sort of activity innocuous sounding "social".
Like a runaway train, Sandberg continues flogging Facebook's social advertising programme throughout her sales pitch. She seemingly pauses mid-stride for a moment, deciding it would be best to allay the privacy fears that have dogged the social notworking site in previous months. So Sandberg proclaims that the firm "designed Facebook to provide relevant and interesting advertising content to you in a way that protects your privacy completely." When you put it like that, we wonder what all the commotion was about. Clearly there was, and is, more to it than they'll admit.
Sandberg's post veers off course as she tries to sell the virtues of social advertising by first saying, "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." Then a little later Sandberg goes onto admit, "Advertisers can also request that we display ads based on the things you have said you liked in your profile." How do the advertisers know what you have "liked"?
Which is it, Facebook? Are advertisers calling the shots or is there some closed source ad-brokerage software that distributes adverts to what Facebook's overlords deem appropriate? Not surprisingly, Sandberg's self-serving screed fails to recognise much less address these legitimate subscriber concerns.
The admission that Facebook does provide data to advertisers is punctuated with the claim that all data is "aggregate and anonymous data", which will apparently only provide advertisers with viewing figures for its adverts. This claim is belied by the ad targeting pitch, though.
With Sandberg desperately trying to paint a picture of how Facebook's advertisers, not users are getting a bum deal, it makes you wonder why any advertiser would want to spend mega-bucks to have such useless metrics to track success of its campaigns, without gaining anything more. That is, unless Sandberg isn't painting the whole picture.
For that, we might have to wait until the next privacy snafu hits Facebook, or it is forced to divulge information during discovery proceedings in lawsuits that have already been filed. µ
'Some of us like the misery'
That'll surely affect its credit score