July 27, 2009

Advertising on social media site raises privacy concerns

Quick post about an interesting story I just read...

One day a married man (important to mention) logged into his Facebook account to check his messages. While on his page he was presented with an ad that entised him to visit a singles site. The ad said "Hey Peter. Hot singles are waiting for you!!" So what you ask? Well it just happens that along with the ad was a picture of a woman, that woman happened to be his wife. See below:

As it turns out, a 3rd party advertiser scraped her picture and others off Facebook profiles and used them in their ads. The victim, Cheryl Smith, talks about the incident on her blog.

According to Facebook officials this violates their policy and they have removed this advertiser. They even kicked off two whole advertiser networks for terms-of-service violations (not necessarily related to this particular case).

At first this story gave me a great laugh, but that quickly turned to shock and concern. Shock that an advertiser would use such a tactic, well I guess I've seen worse but still shocked. Concern regarding privacy on social media websites.

The folks at DownloadSquad have a writeup about this incident here and Sunbelt Software talks about it as well.

Want to protect yourself from the scrapers? Read Tom Eston's Facebook Privacy & Security Guide.

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