I don’t do a lot with social networking sites, but I’ve been getting to know and like Facebook in the past couple of weeks. It’s quite a step up from the messy teenage bedroom of MySpace, that’s for sure. And since I cancel my account on another social networking site whenever I join a new one, Friendster has been kicked to the curb. That leaves Facebook and MySpace — two of these things is enough, really, and I don’t even do much with MySpace.
And just when I was thinking that Facebook might really be cooler and “differenter” than the rest, I read a story about their fancy-shmancy new advertising system. Here’s the bit that made me groan painfully inside:
…Facebook has unveiled targeted advertisements that will allow marketers to target by any information inside Facebook profiles, from relationship status to favorite television shows. [Facebook founder Mark] Zuckerberg demonstrated the interface by targeting a hypothetical running shoe ad toward women aged 18-30 in New York who have listed “running” among their interests.
“With this interface, you’ll be able to target exactly the people that you want,” Zuckerberg said. “This is some really powerful stuff, and nothing like this has ever been seen before.”
G-r-r-e-e-a-a-t. That means some company can pitch me ads for DVDs that I already own! I can’t wait! But I call bullshit on the “this has never been done before” comment. Google and Yahoo have been doing content-based ads for years. He’s taking it to a deeper level, though — the ads will be based not on what your emails say, but personal details you reveal about yourself. And if you’re privacy-minded, why be on Facebook at all if you can’t share your personal details with friends without making them visible to the marketers? Can’t they let people opt-out or something? Geez.
He then went on to say that “we are in a time in history where more information is available and people are more connected than they have ever been before.” Yeah, we’re aware of that…it’s great for the users, but it’s infinitely greater for marketing scumbags who will exploit that connectedness. Ah, well…Facebook is a great service and it’s free, so I suppose this stuff was bound to happen. I’ll probably keep my account, but I’ll have to take another look at the info I’ve got on there…