kyle cassidy (kylecassidy) wrote,
kyle cassidy

Facebook sharing users' sexual preference w/ advertisers

Thought this might be of interest to some of you

Original article by Jacqui Cheng here

"... researchers discovered that Facebook may inadvertently be outing gay users to its advertisers. Saikat Guha from Microsoft and Bin Cheng and Paul Francis from the Max Planck Institute for Software Systems set out to study the challenges in targeted advertising systems (PDF) online, but found that advertisers can ferret out gay users from straight users just by looking at who's clicking—even when that sexual orientation is hidden.

The team set up profiles for straight men, straight women, a gay man, and a lesbian to see how the ads differed between the different types of users. The ads did change for the gay and lesbian users, though the difference in the ads was much greater for the gay males (compared to the straight males) than gay females, "indicating that advertisers target more strongly to [gay males]" reads the paper....

If the advertiser in question also collects other data, such as Facebook ID, the info can be tied together without much thought, even if the user has not made that information public. As we saw earlier this week, Facebook IDs and other user info are running rampant across ad networks and third-party app developers, and the collection of such information (especially when tied to something as sensitive as sexual orientation) could spell disaster for a user who thinks he's being fastidious when keeping his profile private....

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