There's been a lot of chatter regarding Facebook's new "engagement ads" in the blogosphere (oh, spank me for using that word), for example ReadWriteWeb posted Facebook Plans to sell your data February 1 - and the old paper-press people have also written about this; The Telegraph Network cashes in on friends. Some posts were approriatly paranoid but the best one yet is Inside Facebook's "Could Facebook Soon Target Advertisements According to Your Mood?". That's creepy.
However the "new" Engagement Ads aren't new at all, and not active as Facebook's communications managed Matt Hicks explains here in a comment
Earlier this week, there were reports, originating from an article in the UK’s 'The Daily Telegraph' newspaper, which suggest that Facebook is doing all sorts of things that it is not doing. Let me explain what announcements and initiatives Facebook has actually undertaken:
At this years’ World Economic Forum, Facebook ran a series of polls during the many panel sessions to provide the Davos audience with real-time insight into the opinions of people outside of the conference. These polls were conducted on Facebook using internal tools. We were very pleased with the reception these polls received at Davos, whose audience is comprised of many world and business leaders. It is important to note that the polls that we ran at the World Economic Forum were not part of a commercially available product for advertisers and should not be confused with Facebook’s Engagement Ads.
Facebook’s Engagement Ads have been available since September. Early last week we separately announced that we were testing a new type of Engagement Ad, which enables advertisers to pose a question within the ad itself. Engagement Ads were not used to run the polls seen at the Davos conference.
Finally, I want to clarify that Facebook has, for many years, allowed the targeting of advertising in a non-personally identifiable way, based on profile attributes. For example, an advertiser could target an ad to male users over 30 years of age who list snowboarding among their interests. However, the advertiser does not receive any data about individual users, and only knows that their ad was shown to a certain number of users who fit the category. Further, Facebook is not selling any users’ information for market research purposes. Nothing has changed in our approach, and Facebook is committed, as always, to connecting users in a trusted environment.
Corporate Communications, Facebook
I've tried to find a way of contacting the people working for facebook without having to join facebook and I've come up short, so that comment will have to do. The irony aye? Why am I not (re)joining facebook? Unlike some people I know who gripe when advertisers get a hold of their data I don't put my data on places where it's dead obvious that the data will be chunked up and fed to advertisers in the first place. Facebook was never around just for the sheer fun of it people. If you don't like every sock-change and party-image post that you're making turn into an advertising opportunity, just opt-out from the start by not playing on facebook. Easy. I know, "everyone else is doing it", sure sure. But then five million flies eat shit. Doesn't mean you should. If all your friends jumped off a cliff....? ;-)
Note: Readwriteweb updated their facebook news with How a Facebook "Sentiment Engine" Could Be Huge.