Facebook got taken to task by Ad Age this weekend in a report that accuses the social network of being “purposefully vague” about how it targets users based on their likes and interests.
We told you yesterday that Facebook has more than 200 ways of tracking its users around the web.
Age says Facebook’s advertising tool applies a hashtag to terms such as “morning sickness,” “ultrasound” and “pregnancy test” and can then serve ads against them. But Facebook declined to come out and say that it uses posts made by users to identify pregnant women (or other consumers going through a life change that might require a large number of new purchases:(
Facebook, for its part, said it rarely uses the content of status updates as a signal for ad targeting.
But Facebook is careful to note that it doesn’t use the content of status updates to target pregnant women.
Finally, a spokesperson told Age:
“Not all advertisers are created equally in terms of how they define privacy as opposed to how we define privacy,” he said.
Facebook’s clients, however, told Age that they can use the site to ID pregnant women.
Café Mom VP-Marketing Kristina Tipton said her team has identified a Facebook audience of more than a million women who are likely to be pregnant or may have recently been so by anonymously targeting specific keywords that show up in users’ conversations … Ms. Tipton has been told by her Facebook rep that this process includes people who have mentioned the terms in their posts as well as users who have added those terms to their profile.
The big surprise in the article is when Age all but accuses Facebook of lying:
Certainly there’s a gap between what marketers say they are being told and Facebook tells a journalist on the record.