Facebook is now mining information from our conversations and status updates in an effort to improve its results from targeted advertising campaigns. This new method of advertising is currently being tested on 1% of Facebook users, which is roughly 6 million people. Alarming as this may sound, it doesn’t include scanning your instant messaging exchanges, only content that you have posted for others to see, be it on your own wall or on a friend’s.
A Facebook spokesperson told TechRadar earlier today that the data that will be mined for targeted ads will not be taken from Facebook Chat conversations, but only from your Facebook Profile status updates. So basically anything you mention in your status updates on a friend’s wall will be used to decide what sort of advertising appears on your screen. So say you mentioned that you liked the new album from The Strokes, then you might see an advert for tickets to see them at Reading Festival in August. Likewise if you mentioned pizza, it’s possible you would then suddenly see a Domino’s advert.
Is this a bit too much, or just sensible thinking from Facebook and the marketing companies? I recently managed to score last-minute tickets to a concert that I didn’t even know was happening until the day before, when I was watching a video of that band on YouTube and saw the pop-up that they were playing the next night. As long as this sort of direct marketing is fuelled by information in the public domain, then we really have no place to argue.