Well, Facebook has finally done it, they’ve found a way to allow unscrupulous marketers to spam your Facebook account. Facebook will allow advertisers to target users based on personal information such as phone numbers, user IDs, and email addresses. In a confirmation to PCMag.com, Facebook relayed their new marketing program which will begin next week, targeting ads to their “existing customers.”
Marketers will take their list of customer information and upload it to Facebook. This information may consist of phone numbers, user IDs and email addresses. Any uploaded information that could be personally identifiable to Facebook is hashed, and Facebook’s user data is hashed, so that neither sides will have the personal identity of the individual Facebook users. In fact, a Facebook spokesperson said in an email to PCMag.com, “Advertisers don’t get any data from Facebook; Facebook doesn’t get any data from advertisers. So the tool doesn’t grant advertisers access to specific, personally identifiable phone numbers, emails, etc; it gives advertisers an anonymous ‘match’ cluster to target campaigns against.”
But here is the thing about the email addresses that the marketers are uploading to Facebook: more often than not, these marketers should not have your email address in the first place. They have either purchased it from a third party, or scraped it off of the web. So these marketers do not have your permission to use your email address in the first place, and now they are also reaching you by violating your Facebook account.
In true Facebook style, Facebook is downplaying the implications of this new program, but make no mistake that this is just the beginning. Facebook’s history has proven that their general method of unleashing their big picture plans is by releasing them a little at a time. The small releases go generally unnoticed, or if it is a user format change, will raise a few grumbles before the masses get used to the change and settle down again. After that, the next change comes, and so it continues. It’s like the frog in the pot of water. As the need to prove to shareholders that they can make money continues, they will continue to treat users as a commodity (after all, their users are their *only* commodity), and the user experience will continue to decline.
Facebook has already demonstrated how far they are willing to go for a buck – the question is, how far are you willing to let them go?
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