ADOTAS – Well just as The Wall Street Journal has found a new punching bag in RapLeaf, Facebook may step back into privacy-abuse limelight. Cnet has learned that the social network has filed a patent application for ad-targeting technology based on a friends’ interests — in other words, inferential targeting
Basically, an advertiser can weigh in friends’ interests when targeting — for example, if many of your friends like Nascar, there’s a decent probability of you being into stock car racing as well.
However, some of the wording in the application demands further explanation: “The ad targeting method may also weight the member’s connections or otherwise take into account the member’s affinity or other measure of closeness to the member’s connections.” How does Facebook define affinity between members? The new Friendship tool shows the network can recall all interactions between two users, but is there some kind of scoring mechanism to judge how closely you’re connected with someone?
Has Facebook crossed a line? The first word that comes to my mind is invasive — it’s one thing to observe, but it would seem Facebook is trying to let advertisers actually bump into your social circle. But Facebook already recommends you pages by your friends’ likes and will inform you below an ad which of your friends like the brand or advertiser — to some extent the network has already let advertisers elbow their way into your clique.
Social targeting is the next frontier of targeting — we’re going to be hearing more about tech firms analyzing your online interactions with others along with your similar interests to better target ads. Is that veering into stalking territory? It kinda makes me shudder.