Facebook, Privacy and Online Marketing: It’s all about Digital Ad Dollars

Perhaps one reason behind the recent changes at Facebook is that this social web outfit wants to make itself more advertiser-friendly. Last June, Facebook and giant ad agency powerhouse Interpublic Group (IPG) signed a deal that is all about the harvesting of data. IPG’s investment gives it the clout to engage in “mining Facebook for market research trends among its young user base.” In exchange for buying .05 percent of Facebook by agreeing to spend around $10 million worth of ads, IPG is able to “participate in marketing programs on the website, including online advertising and promotions, as well as pilot programs involving sponsorships, consumer research and content creation on behalf of its clients.”

Of course, there’s also the new major (last month) advertising deal with Microsoft. According to the press release, “[A]dvanced technology from Microsoft and Facebook will help connect advertisers with Facebook users in more relevant, innovative ways through a combination of graphical ad placements, as well as automated text-based advertisements targeted to content and, over time, aggregate user behavior on an anonymous basis.”

We’re glad there’s a protest, and users feel their privacy has been violated. But Facebook and other social networking sites, such as MySpace, need to come clean about how their mega-marketing deals with advertisers/marketers threatens everyone’s privacy (at the very least!). We hope there will be more protests focused on social networking sites and their advertising/marketing deals and plans.

Author: jeff

Jeff Chester is executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy. A former journalist and filmmaker, Jeff's book on U.S. electronic media politics, entitled "Digital Destiny: New Media and the Future of Democracy" was published by The New Press in January 2007. He is now working on a new book about interactive advertising and the public interest.

Leave a Reply