Facebook Faces European Crackdown on Targeted Advertising
November 28, 2011 by Daniela Vaseva Source article

The Europe’s lower house is expected to pass a new law in January which will restrict the method which Facebook uses for advertizing. The social network won't be able to use personal user information and sell the data to advertisers anymore due to the changes to the upcoming Data Protection Directive.

The new directive will prevent such advertising to go ahead, unless users specifically allow it. The broadsheet newspaper claims that an investigation it undertook highlights the extent to which Facebook can help companies to focus adverts according to the profiles of users, including data not limited to personal information.

While the Irish data protection agency continues to analyse Facebook’s operational practices, particularly to see whether the social networking giant violates either Irish or European data protection laws, there is conflicting evidence to determine exactly what data Facebook collects, the activities it records, and for how long this data is retained for.

The Sunday Telegraph says that Facebook stores a wealth of data relating to searches, political beliefs, sexual preferences and other data that “can be used”, but not necessarily will, for commercial purposes. Along with this, chat messages and detailed information of what users share, as well as content seemingly ‘deleted’ by the user, remains as part of Facebook’s wealth of retained information, seemingly confirmed by 24-year-old Austrian student Max Schrems’ claims.

Earlier this year, to add more concern to Facebook’s ‘hidden’ data collection concerns, the social network’s search algorithm was exposed, showing how Facebook picks out the ‘most relevant’ search results based on Facebook friend profile visits.

This led to confirmation that Facebook records data that users would not think of as necessarily private, but nevertheless identifiable. Though Facebook retains this data, it is thought that the social network does not serve this information to advertisers.

It is not entirely clear why the social network retains this data, if it apparently has no commercial use for it as of yet.

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