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Facebook’s ads poke into users’ privacy

October 17, 2011

MOLLY BOWMAN
Staff Reporter

Facebook has revolutionized the way people connect with one another around the world through social media, but recently it’s starting to head in a new direction.

Mark Zuckerburg, Facebook co-founder and CEO, announced some big changes for the site at the company’s annual F8 conference in San Francisco at the end of September.

One of the big changes is Open Graph, a program that connects applications and websites to Facebook. These websites and apps can then get permission from a Facebook user to use personal information as a form of advertising on Facebook, according to TIME.

“Companies are trying to make an impression on customers, and this is a good way to reach a lot of them at a very inexpensive cost,” said Larry Jarrell, an instructor of marketing and analysis. “It’s just another good communication tool.”

While this seems like a great thing for businesses, it may have drawbacks for Facebook users. It has the potential to exploit privacy if users aren’t cautious.

Matthew Johnson, a senior electrical engineering and technology major, said he thinks this application is not a violation of privacy. He said he would probably allow the businesses to use information such as his school, hobbies and work references but not personal information.

“I think they have the right to do it,” said Johnson. “I think it will allow companies to better understand their employees.”

Some Tech students said if this new program involves too much advertising and creates unwanted traffic, it might lead Facebook users to use other social networking sites.

“I think people will start using Google+ more,” said Georgia Moran, a freshman psychology major. “It will make people not like Facebook as much.”

Once companies receive initial permission from a user, they are allowed to use the user’s information as they wish, as stated in TIME magazine.

A user must be careful of his Facebook activities if he grants permission, which allows companies to use current information as well as future information a user might post or like.

“As long as they are just using the information in a research form and it’s kind of a collection of data, that’s one thing, but if it gets into sharing personal things and stuff you might not like everybody to know, that’s another concern,” Jarrell said. He said it would not turn away Facebook users because they will be the deciders as to what they choose to read and participate in on Facebook.

“They could either respond to them or not,” Jarrell said. “They can be selective as far as whether they pay attention.”

This recent form of advertising is in bloom because of the rise in social media in the last decade. Internationally, businesses are making the change to advertising though such sites because the viewership is high.

“I think all companies, especially national and global brands, are using it because that is the wave of the future,” Jarrell said. “A lot of people are on Facebook, especially in the younger generations. It will be evolving as it goes along, but right now it gives them a more efficient way – a cheaper way – of meeting customers and staying in contact with them.”

Email comments to mmb041@latech.edu.

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