Posts Tagged ‘privacy’

First Target, now Facebook … “Sweet, you’re having a baby!”

September 24, 2012

Punch line: Consumers and companies are confused as to how Facebook is using personal information to target individuals and their needs and preferences.  Facebook admits the company’s ability to pin point consumer interests based on online interests, but maintains that status updates are never used to target consumers.  Despite many users sharing everything on social networks, consumers are still fighting for privacy.


Excerpted from’s, “Does Facebook Know You’re Pregnant?  What It Knows Depends on Whom You Ask: Social Network Says One Thing, Its Advertisers Another.”

The pregnancy of 30-year-old Sally was announced to the world through her husband’s Facebook page, after he tagged her in a photograph showing a positive home pregnancy test.

Two months later, while Sally was browsing Facebook, she noticed a Huggies ad.  Sally had never “liked” Huggies or any baby-related posts or pages. Nor had she posted about her pregnancy, so she figured Facebook had connected the dots between her husband’s status update and his relationship with her.

Did Facebook and its client, Huggies, know she was pregnant?

According to Facebook and Huggies parent, Kimberly-Clark, Sally’s browsing experience resulted from blind luck.

The ad was the subject of a two-week test targeting parents of young children, Huggies fans and their friends — as well as a three-day subtest of women ages 18 to 34. 

Facebook, for its part, said it rarely uses the content of status updates as a signal for ad targeting.

But plenty of marketers that target pregnant women believe they’re identifying them, at least in part, by their status updates.

Some marketers say they have been told so by Facebook.

The confusion over what exactly Facebook is doing is indicative not only of the opacity of the social network’s ad-targeting algorithms but also the privacy tightrope it walks, offering marketers the precision they crave while assuaging users that their every utterance isn’t being mined for ad targeting.

Here’s what we know … Marketers can reach pregnant women on Facebook with near-surgical precision, mixing and matching a variety of targets, such as those interested in baby products and people who like children’s music, which taken together produce a high likelihood of hitting the mark. 

But Facebook is careful to note that it doesn’t use the content of status updates to target pregnant women.

Tech-savvy consumers may already assume that their status updates are a key part of the targeting recipe since Facebook’s own “data use policy” states that “key words from your stories” are used to deliver ads. But according to Facebook key words in status updates are used only rarely for real-time targeting. (A hypothetical example is a user who has posted “I could go for some pizza tonight” being served an ad with a coupon from Domino’s Pizza.)

Certainly there’s a gap between what marketers say they are being told and Facebook tells a journalist on the record.

Edit by BJP

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Your cell phone provider knows where you are and where you’ve been … and spreads the word

July 6, 2012

Excerpted from Real Clear Technology

Cellphone companies hold onto your location information for years and routinely provide it to police.

At least tens of thousands of times a year, they hand cellphone location information to the FBI or police officers who have a court order.

They also analyze your information to send you targeted ads for their own services or from outside companies.

But, there is one person cell phone companies will not share your location information with …


Click to see how your cell provider’s policies stack up

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Maybe, the next social media win will be healthcare.

May 25, 2012

Buried as the last of  7 Reasons Why Facebook IPO Was A Bust, Forbes’ writer Rich Karlgaard raised a point that caught my eye:

Mass social media is a crock. It is an inherent contradiction.

I like LinkedIn more than Facebook because it  has a special purpose and therefore doesn’t feel like a time waster.

FWIW, I predict the next huge win in social media will be in health care.

As a health care consumer, I want chat with people who are just like me.

With similar gene structures.

Who suffer from similar maladies as well as the genetic potential for similar maladies.

When linking up with my “health friends” I also want a 100% guarantee that my social network won’t betray my health confidences.

Would I trust Facebook to keep these confidences? Never.

Think about it.

How many times have you Googled for medical advice, e.g. what to do for poison ivy?

And, how many folks have built ad hoc digital support structures when a friend or relative  was facing a tough medical situation?

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