However, following concerns over the privacy implications of the practice, a new EC Directive, to be introduced in January, will ban such targeted advertising unless users specifically allow it.
Even though most of the information it harvests is stored on computers in the USA, if Facebook fails to comply with the new legislation it could face legal action or a massive fine.
The move threatens to damage Facebook's plans to float on the Wall Street stock exchange next year, by undermining the way it makes money.
8:29 pm on Nov 28, 2011 (gmt 0)
So I presume the knock on effect will include behavioural retargeting ad companies in general?
I for one am not enamoured with being pursued with ads I am supposed to be interested in/want to look at - but the ramifications of this could be quite far reaching over and above the obvious candidates.
About time too! TW
9:44 pm on Nov 28, 2011 (gmt 0)
This seems to be talking not about behavioral marketing in general, but a specific form Facebook engages in:
Using sophisticated software, the firm harvests information from people's activities on the social networking site – whatever their individual privacy settings – and make it available to advertisers.
As far as I can tell, this wouldn't affect Adsense ads showing you "Blue widgets" on every Adsense-using site you visit after you've Googled "blue widgets", but it would affect the ads on Gmail if they are pulling keywords from your personal emails rather than just going by your searches to select your ads.
9:53 pm on Nov 28, 2011 (gmt 0)
it all comes down to the opt-out vs opt-in really. american companies have profited big time from the lax privacy legislation to date. many of the business models would have been ripped apart if they had been based on european law for instance.
let's face it: if they had to obey the opt-in principle from day one, most of the now celebrated web companies wouldn't even exist. can you imagine what would have happened if google had have to ask every website owner permission to crawl and cache their web pages? or youtube to check beforehand if the uploaded material is copyrighted? or facebook to unambiguously ask permission from every single user to sniff their connections and activity?
we have opt-in in every other area for good reasons so we won't get bugged too much by companies for commercial reasons. only for the few big web corporations there seem to be exceptions. a whole industry based on the shaky legs of questionable user opt-out legislation. just sayin..
2:44 pm on Nov 29, 2011 (gmt 0)
this will be dealt with as so much other stuff like this is dealt with...section 9, clause XVIII, sub-clause d(3) of a new user agreement that "you will presume to agree to unless you delete your account by the Xth day of the Yth month, 2012."
Worst case scenario: european users of FB will be faced with a splash screen asking them to agree to new user agreement.
either way it will be a click or the presumption of a click. Train steams on, some EU bureaucrats will feel they've made the world a better place.
Is my cynicism actually audible?
3:40 pm on Nov 29, 2011 (gmt 0)
Is my cynicism actually audible?
Amazingly, I actually heard little wet clicky noises that sounded like eyeballs rolling.
4:02 pm on Nov 29, 2011 (gmt 0)
you will presume to agree to unless you delete your account by the Xth day of the Yth month, 2012.
Not with this sort of legislation, it will have to be - "your account will be inactivated unless you agree..." for what that is worth.
4:08 pm on Nov 29, 2011 (gmt 0)
...which is why I added the "worst case scenario", it will still be a single click, probably on a semi-transparent pop-up, with your juicy FB frontpage half visible, teasingly right there, calling out to you with scrumptious updates and photos from people you've never met.
"click 'I Accept' and your world will return to normal" it will say. Oh, and here's a link to the new 37-screen-long User Agreement that, so far, 17 people have read all the way through.
I have to get my eyeballs oiled.
4:21 pm on Nov 29, 2011 (gmt 0)
Really, it cannot come soon enough. Too many people just click on the terms and tell their life story online. Just like many of us here, I've been warning of the privacy lapses for some time.
4:44 pm on Nov 29, 2011 (gmt 0)
Well personally I'd rather see ads that I might actually be interested in than generic ads that are just annoying. I guess I'm in the minority.
5:02 pm on Nov 29, 2011 (gmt 0)
@DDogg, you're talking about behavioral targeting based on your browsing & search habits - I think a lot of people agree with that they prefer those relevant ads, and the only concern is that people don't realize their surfing habits are being collected and data mined.
Conversely, this directive is talking about behavioral targeting based on private status updates and messages between you and your friends/family, which is a total invasion of privacy.