Facebook are now analysing your private status updates for marketing purposes, and it’s called “Topic Data”.
Did we get your attention?
Okay, so there is a little bit more to the story than just that headline. So here is what is going on.
Facebook have announced that they will be – for the first time – analysing your status updates (even Friends Only updates) and sharing the results with marketers, for the purposes of analysing marketing trends (marketing insights, basically). The trends are based on keywords, such as certain brands, subjects, events or other targeted keywords.
But hold on, isn’t that a massive breach of privacy to Facebook’s millions of users?
No, say Facebook. For several reasons.
Firstly, and perhaps most importantly, the information given to marketing companies (selected by Facebook) are stripped of any personal information so they are completely anonymous.
Secondly, the marketing companies don’t actually see your status updates, only certain attributes they may or may not contain. Basically – through a company called DataSift – Facebook are analysing trends & volumes for certain keywords and phrases and producing a set of aggregated insights which are handed over to marketers.
So for example, the analysis can discover what other words are appearing together with a specific targeted keyword. So if you mentioned a keyword along with another keyword, this fact may be included in the results, but no one sees what your status update was.
Thirdly, the marketing companies are only given popular insights, and never the results derived from individuals. So a particular insight only finds its way into a marketing companies hands if it appears in at least 100 users status updates. This eliminates any chance that any user could be personally identified by a little detective work. It also negates any chance that personably identifiable information could be handed over by mistake.
Fourthly, even though almost every piece of analysis and data snooping by Facebook is for the purpose of targeted advertisements, this isn’t. Facebook say this is for the purpose of insights only, so marketing companies know how to create their adverts, or when to place an advert, and the results will NOT be used to target advertisements at specific users.
Still though, Facebook’s digital hands will be all over your private status updates, and despite the guarantee of anonymity and aggregation, many users have still expressed feelings of unease, especially considering there is no opt-out.
What do you think? Are you concerned? Let us know below.