Facebook has been in the news quite a bit lately (stay tuned for our upcoming story on the woman who was arrested for poking someone on Facebook!), and there is increasing awareness over just how intrusive and invading of their users’ privacy many of their money-making practices are, such as using their users (you and your Facebook friends) in their Facebook advertising. Here’s a real-life example of someone being used in Facebook ads, and information on how to opt out and stop Facebook from doing it to you.
It’s one of Facebook’s dirty little secrets, even though it’s been publicly available information for more than a year. Facebook takes information that you post, and sells it to advertisers who can use it in ads that are displayed to your friends. For example, if I posted “Eating Ben & Jerry’s Cherry Garcia ice cream”, Ben & Jerry’s could then show an ad to all of my Facebook friends saying “Anne is eating Ben & Jerry’s Cherry Garcia ice cream – shouldn’t you too?” The service is part of Facebook’s “Facebook beacons” service for advertisers, and the ads in which your Facebook info is displayed are called “Facebook Social Ads”. And if you don’t explicitly opt out of them, then you are fair game.