Women who are expecting the pitter patter of baby feet, along with a slew of prime Unbaby.me material, are noticing a change in their ads. Facebook has already been in a bit of hot water for not being too candid about their privacy settings with users, but this bit of news could take the metaphoric water up a few more notches. Facebook claims that they aren’t mining personal parenting status updates that describe ultrasounds, morning sickness, and birthing updates as a way to sell Huggies diapers. But certain marketing suits are thinking otherwise. And if their suspicions are accurate, that means that every time you announce your pregnancy on Facebook, what you’re really saying is, “sell me stuff!”
Ad Age reports:
Facebook, for its part, said it rarely uses the content of status updates as a signal for ad targeting.
But plenty of marketers that target pregnant women believe they’re identifying them, at least in part, by their status updates. Some marketers say they have been told so by Facebook. The confusion over what exactly Facebook is doing is indicative not only of the opacity of the social network’s ad-targeting algorithms but also the privacy tightrope it walks, offering marketers the precision they crave while assuaging users that their every utterance isn’t being mined for ad targeting.
Yet, Facebook told Ad Age that they can reach pregnant ladies “with near-surgical precision” by identifying certain “likes” and preferences in each profile, such as children’s music or baby products. “Liking” such topics as “morning sickness” might also make you a target. However status updates, they claim, aren’t a part of their search — at least not on record.
Despite whatever Facebook representatives claim, the company appears to be remaining vague with consumers on purpose. Given that Facebook’s “data use policy” states that “key words from your stories” are used for the sake of ads, rare use of status updates stands to be almost contradictory.
But, considering how active parents are on Facebook, especially in response to how much information is already being explicitly shared, the bigger question remains of if anyone even cares anymore. You don’t need to skim a few STFU columns to know that there are parents sharing everything about their children from quite literally the moment of their conception. While mothers and fathers may be a camp divided on topics like naked bath tub photos and breastfeeding images, the possibility that you’ve signed away iPhone pics of your newborn could still have a whole generation of social media-savvy parents incensed. Not to mention, those tots once they’ve grown up.