How careful are you about what you share on Facebook and other social networks? Probably not very. But in light of a new initiative Facebook is launching, you may want to give more thought to what you post on the social web.
Under Facebook’s new program, select data-analysis companies will be able to harvest the vast quantities of content that Facebook’s 1 billion-plus users produce. The real beneficiaries will be those data companies’ clients – large consumer brands like Procter & Gamble, ConAgra, General Mills and others.
As Advertising Age describes, Facebook (by way of a company called DataSift) will give its data partners access to a treasure trove of user data.
A data-analysis firm working with P&G, for example, could filter for posts that include a keyword like “toothpaste”. The analysis company could then see demographic data on the people posting about toothpaste, the specific brands or products that were mentioned, and the sentiment of the posts.
No individually identifiable information will be provided to Facebook’s data partners, and only public or shared posts will be scraped.
Still, the ultimate goal of the program is to help large businesses advertise more effectively on Facebook. That raises the question: Do you want your Facebook posts to be used as part of a big brand’s advertising program?
If the answer is no, there are a few things you can do to keep your information more private.
It’s simple: the less you post to Facebook, the less there is for analytics companies to see. And because this new Facebook initiative is focused on brand-specific conversations, you can keep yourself off the radar by not talking about companies or products.
Opt out of interest-based advertising
Interest-based ads are the kind that seem to “know” a lot about you – what kind of beer you prefer, or what types of cars you may be in the market for. You can visit this website – a project of the Digital Advertising Alliance industry group – to opt out of interest-based ads in your web browser.
Note that this process sets cookies in your browser, so running a cookie-erasing program like CCleaner will wipe your opt-out request.
Block social sharing trackers
Here’s what social sharing buttons can look like:
They’re quite common – just one social-sharing provider, AddThis, has its buttons on more than 13 million websites. But did you know that social-sharing buttons use tracking technology to record your web browsing activity on behalf of social networks?
Plus, social trackers can use sneaky tech like canvas fingerprinting (which, unlike cookies, can’t be deleted easily).
Good news, though: Blur will completely block AddThis and other social-sharing trackers. You don’t even need to do anything: Simply install Blur in your favorite browser. It’ll begin blocking trackers immediately and keep track of how many trackers you’ve blocked.
Facebook may only be getting less private – but you can fight back!