the tech post

This blog is about technology, software and social media. It's aimed as much towards 'normal' people as the tech savvy. The author is Tony Gallacher.

The Facebook Information Vampire

Hipster car

Hipster car

The other day, I posted a comment on Facebook, suggesting that the hipster who owns this car would be after a *pre-sale* copy of the new Belle and Sebastian album on *vinyl*. The very next day, I noticed two consecutive posts on the Belle & Sebastian Facebook page. The first told me when the new album will be available for *pre-sale*, the second explained that, sadly, it will not be available on *vinyl* format, but teases a future development. Coincidence or the work of the Facebook Information Vampire?

It’s just a coincidence. Facebook doesn’t provide that level of detail to advertisers and page owners. Yet.

All the same, it made me more aware of how disruptive Facebook advertising is. We all know it’s there. It’s in in the background of most things we do on the web. It’s become the internet analogue of rain. ‘It’s fine. I could live with out it but I can work around it. I know what I’m doing,’ we say. But we don’t stop very often, to think about it. Maybe we should. Every day, advertisers can access aggregated, organised and current information about their target demographics; they can confidently shape their message to a degree they could never have done before. That’s great when you’re selling something.

Maybe we’re becoming inured to giving away personal information, though. One day, all it might take is a site to offer us a handy new service, just a bit more convenience and we’ll trade off even more of our privacy. Suddenly everyone will know everyone else’s mobile number, their current location or be able to hone in on someone’s activity on any street, using new Real Time Google Maps. Scary? It won’t seem scary because it’ll happen just a little bit at a time.

On one side of the online conversation, I picture the marketing executives. Each day, they scrutinise social media reports in their agency war room. They hone their campaign tactics in response. They shape clients’ Facebook posts accordingly. It’s professional, tactical and clinical. It’s all business. It helps them to sell us what we want or, at least, helps us to want what they’re selling.

On the other side, I see a Facebook user. She’s liked a brand page. A chatty message appears on her timeline to let her know about a new product release. The message seems personal, familiar and helpful. She feels more connected to the brand, the band or the celebrity.

That’s what makes Facebook a such a success: it’s incredibly sticky for users and incredibly useful for advertisers, at the same time. But the advertisers are the paying customer and you are the product. Your personal information is what’s for sale.

If you found this Tech Post article useful, please share it or ‘like’ it using the options below. Many thanks, Tony

2 comments on “The Facebook Information Vampire

  1. clownonfire
    February 26, 2012

    Facebook is sneaky this way…

    March 17, 2012


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