A (Willing) Victim of Target Advertising on Facebook

A little over a year ago, I was in revolt against Facebook. The social network had just launched a major redesign and added two new products, News Feed and Mini Feed.

I felt that both were an invasion of my privacy, and I wasn’t alone. Tens of thousands of Facebook users spoke out, and Facebook quickly made changes to the program that we found we could live with. In fact, I had almost forgotten my anger with the social network.

That is, until I started seeing articles pop up about Facebook allowing advertisers to target ads based on user profiles. Alas, another invasion of privacy! Let us take to our keyboards and attack the mongrels with harsh messages, cleverly named groups and a strategic boycott of their services.

Of course, before I waged war on my favorite social network, I needed to update my profile, add some Halloween pictures and write on my friend’s wall. And in the midst of doing all of this, something happened.

I remember it was on the left side of my profile – not interfering with any important information. I don’t even know why I looked over. But I did. And I saw a little square box with a picture of Billy Joel and the date of his next concert.

My groundbreaking thought, “Cool!”

I’m a Billy Joel fan. Make fun of me if you want, but I fell in love with him when I saw him dance to Uptown Girl back when MTV actually played music videos. I had even listed him as one of my favorites under the “music” category in my Facebook profile.

And then it dawned on me. I was a victim. Yet I didn’t feel like revolting. Facebook is allowing advertisers to provide its users with information that they are essentially asking for.

I like Billy Joel, so yes, I would like to know when his next concert is. I might even buy tickets if I had the information on-hand. But I probably wouldn’t go to Google or Yahoo! to try to find out when the concert is. I just don’t think about it.

By displaying that picture of Billy Joel, Facebook was providing me with information that didn’t offend or irritate me. In fact, it made it more likely that I would buy Billy Joel tickets. And I certainly wouldn’t be angry if Facebook provided me with more information concerning the other hobbies I have listed in my profile. That is, of course, unless I lied.