In late February, Facebook forged a partnership with four of its most prolific data brokers in order to more accurately target users with relevant advertisements.

Facebook announced on Feb. 27 that it would be expanding its custom audiences tool, an earlier initiative designed to target users with more precise advertisements, so that interested businesses could meld information acquired from Facebook with data collected by the data brokers Datalogix, Epsilon, Acxiom and BlueKai.

According to a blog penned yesterday by the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s Director of Activism, Rainey Reitman, this new partnership means that Facebook ads will be based not only on information gathered about consumers via cookies and other online tracking mechanisms but also on data collected offline through things like supermarket customer loyalty programs.

“In practical terms,” Reitman writes, “this means that limiting how much information you put on Facebook is not enough to limit how ads are targeted to you on Facebook.”

Reitman goes on to claim that the data behind the ads that users will see on Facebook could be more broadly gleaned from users’ interests, age, online and offline shopping history, Web browsing history, location data, and more, regardless of what users share on Facebook.

Luckily, for the privacy conscious that are still on Facebook at least, Reitman notes that concerned users can visit the sites of each of the data brokers involved (Datalogix, Epsilon, Acxiom, and BlueKai) and opt out of their targeted advertising individually. If you are interested in doing so, then you should swing over the the EFF’s DeepLinks blog, where Reitman explains in detail (with pictures) exactly what one needs to do to opt out.

Mark Zuckerberg image via  Robert Scoble‘s Flickr photostream, Creative Commons.

Categories: Privacy

Comment (1)

  1. Anonymous

    Just use NoScript or Ghostery, no need to depend on any opt-outs or unscrupulous social networks and their data brokers.

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