Facebook has started working with a data mining service to pair together your email address and other information stored on Facebook with advertising products to see what (and if) you’re clicking on ads. Privacy advocates aren’t too fond of this, but thankfully you can keep it from happening.
We’ve known that Facebook is already tracking your every move online, but the data Facebook is using now isn’t just about browser cookies. Facebook is pairing what you buy offline with what you see online.
The Data Facebook is Collecting (and What They’re Using it For)
According to the Financial Times, Facebook is now working with the data collection company Datalogix. Facebook’s reasoning is that they need a system to provide marketers with more concrete data, and Datalogix has data from about 70 million households drawn from loyalty cards and similar programs.
On its end, Facebook matches the email addresses in Datalogix’s systems, and compares that to an email address on Facebook. This effectively makes it so they can track if you see an ad on Facebook and then purchase it in a store.
Your data is automatically included in the advertising studies without your consent, and because of that, privacy groups are concerned. Talking with CNET, Jeff Chester, executive director of The Center for Digital Democracy expresses his concern:
I believe the FTC should be investigating all this as part of its review under the consent decree… Ad exchanges allow them to take this data and apply it in real-time and sell it to the highest bidder including Facebook. They are using reams of additional data, including from online, to target Facebook users
For its part, Facebook released this statement to The Verge:
We are working with Datalogix to help advertisers understand how well their Facebook ads are working. We also do this through our partnerships with companies like Nielsen and comScore and through our own advertising tool. We know that people share a lot of information on Facebook, and we have taken great care to make sure that we measure the effectiveness of Facebook ads without compromising the commitments we have made on privacy. We don’t sell people’s personal information, and individual user data is not shared between Facebook, Datalogix or advertisers.
Regardless of whether your personal data is making it across the tubes, you might want to keep your offline activity separate from your online activity. Thankfully, it’s easy to opt out of Datalogix’s collection.
How to Opt-Out from the Datalogix Collection
To opt-out of everything (including the Facebook comparison data) Datalogix is collecting, head to their Privacy page, scroll down to the “Choice” heading, click the last “click here” link in the paragraph, and fill in your information. This will opt you out of any and all data collection done by Datalogix.
You can also easily to opt out of Datalogix’s cookie-based tracking by clicking this link. Like any cookie based advertising, you will have to opt-out on every computer and browser you use.
Keep Your Online and Offline Data Separate
As we mentioned, the way this data collection works is that it compares your online data with offline shopping habits. So, the easiest solution to keep it from happening? Don’t use the same phone number or email address on your Facebook account as you do when you sign up for loyalty or discount cards.
Stores rarely (if ever) follow up on making sure your loyalty card data is correct, so not using your real information isn’t an issue. Otherwise, you can almost always use Jenny’s number (867-5309) to get club discounts instead of handing over any personal information.
Title image remixed from Joe Loong.