Are New Facebook Changes an Invasion of Privacy?

Blog post by: Melissa Ignasiak
In the past year, Facebook has faced questions about its ability to make money and expand. In response to these questions, Facebook has launched many new advertising features to boost revenue. However, Facebook is now facing questions about whether or not these features are an invasion of privacy of Facebook users.
One of the recent changes to Facebook was the introduction of Facebook Exchange. Facebook Exchange is a way for advertisers to place ads on Facebook and was created to increase the efficiency of ads. Exchange relies on retargeting technology to deliver its message. This means is that advertisers can track what websites Facebook users are visiting and provide ads based on what the user is searching for.
Custom Audiences allows marketers to reach people on Facebook using the information they have already provided. Businesses can upload email lists to Custom Audiences and advertise to them through Facebook. This is a great tool for marketers to reach their customers online.
The final addition to new advertising features is the use of Datalogix. Datalogix is a market analytics firm that measures how often users see a product advertised on Facebook and then later purchase that product.
In response to the concerns of privacy infringement, Joey Tyson, a Facebook privacy engineer, released a blog post  addressing several privacy questions. For example, with the Facebook Exchange feature, he explained that an ID number is assigned to each user that is different from the user’s Facebook ID number. All tracking is done through this assigned ID number. Each ad includes a link to let users provide feedback as well as a link to provide more information or to opt out of future ads.
Also, when using Custom Audiences, the business provides Facebook with “hashes” of its customers’ email addresses. They are is not sending the actual email address. These hashes are bits of texts that can uniquely identify information but are designed to prevent processes that could reveal the data. If Facebook cannot find a match to the hash, it will delete it. Tyson also confirmed that Datalogix does not have the ability to access Facebook user profile information. It collects data on what people buy through loyalty card programs that are then matched to Facebook profiles. They can only create reports comparing product purchases by large groups of people who did or did not see a certain ad.
In conclusion, “Advertising keeps Facebook free,” Tyson said. “We believe we can create value for the people who use our services every day by offering relevant ads that also incorporate industry-leading privacy protections. In our view, this is a win-win situation for marketers and for you.”