Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Facebook Bumps Up Its Ad Targeting, Too — Using Your Phone Number and Email Address

Twitter is not the only social network tweaking its ad targeting program. Facebook says it will start letting marketers find prospects on the social network by using personal information like phone numbers and email addresses.

The catch: In order for a company to track a Facebook user using any of that data, the Facebook user has to have already given the company that data on their own.

Or to put it another way: Facebook is letting marketers hunt down existing customers on the site.

InsideFacebook first reported the development this morning, and Facebook now says it will be rolling out the targeting option widely next week. It will give advertisers the ability to use phone numbers, email addresses and the “UID” code that Facebook users generate when they install apps on the network.

The idea is that advertisers hand over that data to Facebook, which will match with the user data it already has. So, say, Virgin America could advertise to people who have already flown on the airline. Both data sets are supposed to be “hashed” before they’re matched, which should mean neither Virgin nor Facebook would actually know the identity of the people being targeted.

Don’t like the sound of that? You should be able to just say no. Facebook says advertisers will have to seek their customers’ permission to use the data for marketing campaigns before they proceed.

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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik