Monday, April 26, 2010

Privacy? What Privacy?

It's no surprise that very little is really private online. But when Ad Age asked a database company to demonstrate what it could find out about one of its reporters, the results were startlingly accurate.

Demographically, the company identified his date of birth, home phone number, political party affiliation, college grad status, married status, household income, and even knew that one parent had passed away.

Psychographically, the company knew about his interest in running, concerts, sports, and computers, among other lifestyle details. The reporter's question: If marketers can get so much info, why aren't they doing a better job of targeting ads?

If you use Facebook, chances are that your personal details are more public than you know, if you haven't already tweaked your privacy settings in the past few days. Gizmodo, a respected tech site, posted a tongue-in-cheek story last week titled: "Facebook's Privacy Changes Get Scary." For a quick and serious look about how to handle FB privacy, see Gawker.

My view is: By default, FB and other social media sites should have privacy settings as strong as possible and clearly advise users about how to make changes. Social media sites are not necessarily places where users expect to be targeted for marketing.

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