updated 07:14 pm EDT, Thu August 30, 2012
Advertiser tool improvement in limited trials, opening up soon
Facebook has announced plans to allow external marketers to mine new customers from the social network using personal information, such as phone numbers, email addresses, Facebook users' unique UID code, and other identifying characteristics. The targeting option will be available to advertisers next week. Facebook says advertisers will have to seek their customers' permission to use the data for marketing purposes before they proceed.
Using Facebook's "Power Editor" tool for advertisers, some users had access to a "custom audiences" tab earlier today. The tab allowed selection of which specific type of information they are targeting, and then upload a comma separated value (CSV) spreadsheet with identifying information. Both sets of data are allegedly asked before matching, which if properly executed, allows some modicum of data security preventing unauthorized data mining.
None of the data being searched is unjustly acquired by Facebook-- the user would have had to provide the searchable data to the network by choice.
Facebook's prior advertising methods have come under fire. A settlement against the "sponsored stories" feature is awaiting more information to the judge. Sponsored stories were advertisements that appeared on a user's Facebook page when a friend "likes" an advertiser, including the friend's name and photograph. The suit claims that the paid post uses user's images and names to advertise products without compensation for advertising purposes in violation of California law. Additionally, startup company Limited Run has deleted its Facebook page and will cease paying for ads, claiming that the majority of the clicks the company was receiving were driven not by real people but by automated programs.