In 100 words or less…
While many people consider social networking a playful past-time, it’s really the infrastructure of a powerful type of on-line marketing, and that’s where the competing interests come in, along with a need for balance. Networks of like-minded people provide valuable target audiences for products and services. It’s smart marketing and it’s unreasonable to expect Facebook and other marketers to ignore the business potential, but there’s a consumer call for greater transparency of the way data is shared.
Facebook takes the heat on privacy issues in part because with more than 400 million active users worldwide, it’s the 300 pound gorilla of social networking. What happens on Facebook matters to a majority of on-line Americans. Facebook and other social media sites share your personal information with various third parties who have a vested interest in who you’re socializing with, what you’re buying, what you’re reading and basically where you’re hanging out on the web. There’s nothing new about that. That’s why the ads that pop up on a fifteen year old’s Facebook page are nothing like those you’ll see on the page of a 50 year old. Your profile information is a gold mine for marketers who craft messages just for you and the people in your networks.
Facebook is not “free”. You pay for your place on Facebook with personal information – as much or as little as you choose to provide. As Facebook and other social media networks continue to extend their reach, you need to be aware of who’s sharing what with whom. Ready to dig deeper?