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Facebook Social Ads: Is Ignoring Privacy A Good Idea?

By November 26, 2007July 30th, 20232 Comments

With the launch of Social Ads, Facebook is trying to take online advertising to another level altogether. This form of marketing is based on highly targeted advertising and peer publicity. The individual choices of a user show up as ads in the news feed of all friends and acquaintances in his or her network. Trusted recommendations and referrals form the basis of this advertising strategy.

A good deal for advertisers.

Facebook Social Ads provide the ideal advertising platform for companies. A recent survey carried out by Deloitte Consulting found that 50 percent of purchase decisions are influenced by comments or recommendations from friends and family. For advertisers looking to influence consumer choices, few existing ad platforms offer the advantage of propogating referrals from trusted sources the way Facebook Social Ads does. Additionally, the platform offers advertisers easy access to a prospective client base via the social networks of current clients. From an advertiser’s point of view, the benefits are excellent.

What about the users?

While Social Ads seem to be a godsend for advertisers, where does all this leave the user? The most common question that arises in the wake of Facebook Social Ads seems to be “What about the privacy of the users?” After all, a person would not necessarily want his or her choices flaunted to some one else. And this is exactly what this new ad format will do. The ads invade privacy by publicising and utilising an individual’s choices. Users are presented the choice of not sharing but that option can be easily overlooked owing to the nature of its display. (A little box in the web browser which has to be clicked within 20 seconds if the user does not wish to share their choices or purchases.)

Is Social Ads a good idea in the long term?

What would happen if all users chose not to disclose anything? Would Facebook introduce a more stringent policy that ensured individual privacy? And would that new offering still give advertisers their money’s worth? And most importantly where would it leave Facebook if all of this ends in mass discontent for both the social network users and advertisers? Looks like Facebook needs a plan B in case Social Ads turns into a privacy nightmare for them.