So far, that might not seem like a big deal -- after all, signing up for Facebook has given you access some of the world's most popular free entertainment, such as games like FarmVille and the like. This weekend, however, an LA Times article warns that Facebook is now planning to cash in -- in a big way -- by getting more aggressive about selling ads against your personal data as the company prepares to go public in the not-too-distant future.
I'm not talking about standard profile items like your age or your location, but sell ads against things that you write about in updates or based on things that you 'like' on your fellow Facebookers pages.
If you're familiar with internet privacy, this type of targeted advertising isn't necessarily anything new. Google, for instance, has been serving up ads based on your searches and email discussions forever. But, the LA Times says Facebook will be able to take it to the next level -- its "unique trove of consumer behavior could transform it into one of the most powerful marketing tools ever invented.""For years, the privately held company founded by Mark Zuckerberg in a Harvard dorm room put little effort into ad sales, focusing instead on making its service irresistible to users. It worked. Today more than 600 million people have Facebook accounts. The average user spends seven hours a month posting photos, chatting with friends, swapping news links and sending birthday greetings to classmates.
Now the Palo Alto company is looking to cash in on this mother lode of personal information by helping advertisers pinpoint exactly whom they want to reach. This is no idle boast. Facebook doesn't have to guess who its users are or what they like. Facebook knows, because members volunteer this information freely - and frequently - in their profiles, status updates, wall posts, messages and "likes."
It's now tracking this activity, shooting online ads to users based on their demographics, interests, even what they say to friends on the site - sometimes within minutes of them typing a key word or phrase."
Then, there's the larger issue -- as in how many of the 600 million people on Facebook are really aware of how much info they're giving up to advertisers, as well as just how much Facebook stands to gain from selling off your personal data and interests.
So -- I throw the question to you -- does it bother you that Facebook will be selling more ads based on your private info? Or, do you see it as a necessary part of partaking in one of the world's most vibrant social networks? Take our poll below.