expands users' ad targeting profiles with website data
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[June 12, 2014]
By Alexei Oreskovic
SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Facebook Inc is
expanding the internal user profiles that underpin its
targeted advertising system, for the first time
including personal information based on activities that
did not occur within the boundaries of its social
While Facebook has long maintained internal profiles of users based
on the comments they make and the posts that they “like” within its
social network, the company will now flesh out those profiles with
information based on some of the external websites and mobile apps
its members use, a move that could further inflame concerns about
how it treats personal privacy.
The enhanced profiles will allow marketers to deliver more relevant
ads, Facebook said in a blog post announcing the change on Thursday.
If a Facebook user researches a new television on an external
website or inside of a mobile app, their profile might now indicate
an interest in televisions and in electronics, making it easier for
advertisers pitching electronic devices to reach that user on
Facebook already has access to much of this information through
tools that it uses to measure the performance of its ads as well as
through "plug-ins" that integrate Facebook features on third-party
websites, but the company has not until now incorporated the data
into its users' ad targeting profiles.
To quell potential privacy concerns, Facebook will for the first
time give users the ability to review and edit their internal
advertising profiles. By clicking on a button alongside Facebook
ads, a user can see all the “interests” on their record, remove
unwanted categories and add any desired categories.
Facebook said it will also provide a link to an industry website
that will allow users to not have their activities on websites
tracked, as well as a link to the appropriate controls within their
smartphones to eliminate mobile app tracking.
The new ad capabilities come as Facebook strives to ramp up its
advertising revenue amid competition from Google Inc while
addressing persistent concerns about personal privacy on the world’s
No.1 social network.
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In April, Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg announced new
features that lets users limit how much personal information they
share with third-party mobile apps.
Facebook, Google and other online companies have faced increasing
scrutiny and enforcement from privacy regulators as consumers
entrust ever-increasing amounts of information about their personal
lives to Web services.
In 2012, Facebook settled privacy charges with the U.S. Federal
Trade Commission that it had deceived consumers and forced them to
share more personal information than they intended. Under the
settlement, Facebook is required to get user consent for certain
changes to its privacy settings and is subject to 20 years of
(Reporting by Alexei Oreskovic; Editing by Bernard Orr)
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