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How Facebook Will Profit Even More From Your Profile

How Facebook Will Profit Even More From Your Profile

Facebook is only free in name. While the company most definitely does not sell your information, Facebook “makes its money from showing you ads,” as a webpage from Facebook explains. So what, you might say: Ads are everywhere, flashing and pop-upping from websites across the internet, on the sidelines of your Gmail account, on the floor of your supermarket.

What’s different is that the ads you are shown on Facebook are tailored to you based on your personal information and on whatever pages, events, etc. you have “liked” on Facebook. Rather than you having to scan the pages of the weekly circulars — those advertising inserts tucked into paper newspapers that many of us never look at anymore — the ads about things you’re likely to be interested in are seamlessly delivered to you.

An “exclusive” guest post on BetaBeat says that new features on Facebook mean that the company, whose spring 2012 IPO is getting closer and closer, will generate even more profits from your profile.  The author of the post is an anonymous contributor described as a “former CTO who now does tech consulting for other start-up ventures and was briefed on Facebook’s advertising strategy”; he says that Facebook’s much ballyhooed new Timeline profile was designed not so much with a view to enhance your social media experience, as to enhance advertisers’ brand messaging.

Starting in January, Facebook will also integrate another type of ad, “sponsored stories” — posts and activities that businesses have paid Facebook to feature – into your Timeline. They will look like updates from friends as a friend’s profile photo will be displayed besides content they have “liked.” Facebook has described Timeline as a great innovation that makes it possible to present your entire history back to the day you were born; all Facebook profiles will be converted to the new format by the end of this year.

But, according to the BetaBeat post, what Timeline is really doing is disguising ads as updates from your friends. From BetaBeat:

What most users don’t know is that the new features being introduced are all centered around increasing the value of Facebook to advertisers, to the point where Facebook representatives have been selling the idea that Timeline is actually about re-conceptualizing users around their consumer preferences, or as they put it, “brands are now an essential part of people’s identities.”

The name itself is cleverly designed to conceal the fact that your profile no longer arranges information chronologically. Yes, things are laid out by year and by month. But, when it comes to what’s displayed to your social circle at any given time, other metrics, including direct payments to Facebook itself, will now influence the ranking and placement of stories. This payola will be a crucial part of the graph rank, the new metric for placement that the social network uses to determine what appears on your profile.

The information on your profile will be arranged, BetaBeat suggests, according to an algorithm based on, among other factors, how much businesses pay Facebook.

The Atlantic Wire contacted Facebook about BetaBeat’s post and was told that, but of course, Facebook “isn’t trying to hide anything.” Facebook has tended to be weak about keeping users informed about what all that personal information — all those photos people spend hours tagging and arranging in albums, all the pages you “like” and the bands and movies and information you input on your profile page — is used for. The earlier noted webpage about how Facebook makes its money is an attempt to remedy this, though the webpage‘s explanations are carefully framed so as to suggest that Facebook’s innovative integration of ads into your profile is an improvement over more traditional ads, all while keeping Facebook “free.”

Facebook has devised a brave new world of user-based advertising that is “more relevant but potentially more invasive,” as The Atlantic Wire notes. You can’t avoid the ads on Facebook. Based on the number (800 million) of profiles that exist on Facebook, most users do not seem to mind that a large company is mining the personal information they post to generate ads to show said users. Again, ads are everywhere and if you are shown ads about things you’re interested in, so much the better — but who, ultimately, for?

 

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85 comments

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10:20PM PST on Mar 8, 2012

Good info to know, interesting comments,,, thank you for sharing!

10:49AM PST on Mar 4, 2012

I don't like this new Timeline, I have just been FORCED to change, it will go live on March 11th whether I like it or not, so I will be deactivating my account.

5:14PM PST on Mar 3, 2012

Goes to show there is nothing that is free and good for you. If you can put nothing in your profile, they won't have any informatin to sell.

11:28AM PST on Jan 5, 2012

Facebook truly is the new face of evil. They will have everything they need to crush human freedom.

5:28PM PST on Jan 3, 2012

Google, gmail, blogs, and all the other Internet services out there that have ads on the periphery. Even Care2 is littered with ads. That's what makes it free. You can succumb and be manipulated or just ignore them. And yes, I've seen the ads: So and so "likes" Walmart or Seventh Generation or Dole and that becomes the ad of the future.

1:34PM PST on Jan 3, 2012

Their is no way, I am going to contribute to secret logic; for I am a truth sayer, at all cost. This is one reason I chose to discontinue my trip to stage and film. For all whom believe otherwise, I do not blame you. Keep your world to yourself; know not, to ask me to keep you in my thoughts - for I will not. I dare to share all I know for it is my god-given right to do so, as I see fit. This mindset allows for serenity for eternity. When maturity rears it ugly head remembering the truth allows for "good" memory.

7:51PM PST on Dec 29, 2011

hate facebook

1:03PM PST on Dec 29, 2011

Facebook does not ask for your credit card number to verify your a real person....thats a crock Saleem.

If you don't want facebook to be a channel for business to advertise to you then dont use it it's as simple as that.

2:46PM PST on Dec 28, 2011

Facebook has never asked for my credit card number I never give that to anyone except when I purchase something.

10:56AM PST on Dec 28, 2011

Ads aren't everywhere on my computer. It's called AdBlock.

Fortunately I managed to install this on my immediate family's computers, but it scares me to think of all the people that don't have a tech-savvy family member to help them.

Also, I don't like Facebook, but unfortunately so many things use it, it's kind of a necessity.

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Kristina Chew Kristina Chew teaches ancient Greek, Latin and Classics at Saint Peter's University in New Jersey.... more
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