Interesting article on social networking privacy rights

Kelly Diver


“Facebook users seek answers on advertising privacy”

While reading an article today I was struck immediately by its prevalence to the INF 202 class, specifically applying to the Big Data article which we read for Assignment 4. The article, ‘Big Data for All: Privacy and User Control in the Age of Analytics’, took a look at how much data is collected online and the implications it brings in terms of privacy law. Today, I learned that Facebook Ireland Inc. is being criticized for it’s current use of customer content to create advertising.

Interestingly, Facebook has two versions of its data use policy, one which is a non specific summary of the full one. The following is a clip from Section I of the full policy, ‘Information we receive and how it is used’;

Other information we receive about you

We also receive other types of information about you:

  • We receive data about you whenever you interact with Facebook, such as when you look at another person’s timeline, send or receive a message, search for a friend or a Page, click on, view or otherwise interact with things, use a Facebook mobile app, or purchase Facebook Credits or make other purchases through Facebook.
  • When you post things like photos or videos on Facebook, we may receive additional related data (or metadata), such as the time, date, and place you took the photo or video.
  • We receive data from the computer, mobile phone or other device you use to access Facebook, including when multiple users log in from the same device. This may include your IP address and other information about things like your internet service, location, the type (including identifiers) of browser you use, or the pages you visit.
  • We receive data whenever you visit a game, application, or website that uses Facebook Platform or visit a site with a Facebook feature (such as a social plugin), sometimes through cookies. This may include the date and time you visit the site; the web address, or URL, you’re on; technical information about the IP address, browser and the operating system you use; and, if you are logged into Facebook, your User ID.
  • Sometimes we get data from our advertising partners, customers and other third parties that helps us (or them) deliver ads, understand online activity, and generally make Facebook better. For example, an advertiser may tell us information about you (like how you responded to an ad on Facebook or on another site) in order to measure the effectiveness of – and improve the quality of – ads.”1

The final bullet is the most interesting to me as Facebook is advertized on nearly all websites, as they usually allow you to ‘Like them on Facebook!’ with the click of a button.

According to Facebook they do not sell the information they collect, but rather organize it into brackets and sell the brackets of consumers that would be likely to respond to specific advertisers. For example, “Young males who ‘like’ 5+ videogame pages” would likely be a bracket Game Stop or Nintendo would choose to advertise in.

“Facebook’s policy already states that it will show you ads that are related to things you like as a way of letting advertisers target specific demographics based on information like age, sex, location, and likes.”2

Some people are not so sure that Facebook has made all of their users obviously aware of their privacy policies.

“Both the Electronic Privacy Information Center and the Center for Digital Democracy think Facebook’s new proposed changes break the terms of a settlement between the FTC and the social network.”

“Under the terms, Facebook agreed to provide users with ‘clear and prominent notice’ anytime their information is shared, and obtain its users’ ‘express consent’ before sharing any information that exists outside the auspices of its privacy settings.”2

This topic is particularly important because of how widely used Facebook is at the current time. With millions of users, Facebook has access to immense amounts of personal information and data which they analyze and organize constantly. Moral of the story? Unlike Las Vegas, what happens on Facebook does not stay on Facebook.


1         “Full Data Use Policy.” Facebook. Facebook, 8 June 2012. Web. 4 Dec. 2012. <;.

2         Tam, Donna. “Facebook Users Seek Answers on Advertising, Privacy.” CNET News. CBS Interactive, 04 Dec. 2012. Web. 04 Dec. 2012. <;.

Kelly Diver

Journalism Major
Senior ’13

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