I recently received an email promoting a campaign by a group called Some Of Us, an organization that generates petitions opposing various activities of large companies. This campaign was directed at Facebook, calling on the social network to not sell user data to advertisers. Facebook has recently announced plans to allow advertisers to target ads to Facebook users based on the web sites users have visited. Facebook is not selling user data to advertisers, but I can understand the confusion. Behavioral advertising is complicated, and although selling user data to advertisers is very different than choosing ads for users based on their web surfing, it’s not uncommon for critics to use broad language to blast targeted ads in general.
Some of Us also complains that the Facebook opt-out process, where Facebook links users to the industry central opt-out site found at aboutads.info, is too tedious. But Some of Us doesn’t even bother to provide its visitors with a link or an url to opt-out, as the behavioral advertising code enforced by the Better Business Bureau requires. Some of Us just tells visitors they can visit the Network Advertising Initiative opt out page, leaving them to research how to find the opt-out page on their own.
I am used to reading stories in the media blasting behavioral ads on the home pages of newspapers embedded with dozens of web trackers. Reporters don’t run the web sites of newspapers, and although they might want to consider whether the ad tracking they consider odious is funding their salaries, they can credibly argue that the business side of media and reporting are separate worlds. But how can an advocacy group blast behavioral ads while targeting behavioral ads to users who come to sign a petition against behavioral ads?!!!
I signed the petition and was immediately taken to a page where Some of Us encouraged me to share the news with my friends on Facebook.
-Jules Polonetsky, Executive Director. This post originally appeared on LinkedIn.