Facebook denies new button can track web history
Facebook is denying claims that its new content-sharing button will allow it to serve advertising based on its users’ web history.
The social network is launching a new content sharing button this week, which other websites can embed onto their pages, but it will not be used by Facebook as a behavioural advertising targeting tool, as suggested in a report originally printed by The Financial Times.
A Facebook spokesman said: “The Financial Times incorrectly suggested that Facebook is launching a behavioural ad targeting at F8, our upcoming developer conference.
"Their story has been corrected. As we have said previously, we are moving from ‘Become a Fan’ to ‘Like’ to make the language on the site more consistent but we have no announcements or changes planned to our ad offering or ad policies.”
The new ‘like’ button has been likened to tools sites like Twitter have developed to enable users to share content they like from around the web – with the rest of their social network.
However, Facebook has clarified that it will not use this tool to track its users’ web behaviour in order to deliver highly targeted advertisements when they return to Facebook.com.
Currently Facebook serves targeted adverts based only on the information people provide on their profile – such as gender and age.
A raft of new products are expected to be announced at Facebook’s annual F8 conference in San Francisco, which takes place on Wednesday.
A company spokesman added: “All the products we are launching at F8 are focused on giving developers and entrepreneurs ways to make the web more social. We have no announcements or changes planned to our ad offering and ad policies.”
The way in which Facebook users become fans of brands, such as Coco-Cola, is also undergoing a minor facelift.
The ‘Become a fan’ button is being replaced with an invitation to say “I like” a brand instead.
These engagement adverts, which are a huge revenue generator for Facebook, once agreed to, allow the brand to send promotional messages to those consenting users which will appear in their personal news feeds.
The last time Facebook was embroiled in a major privacy dispute regarding targeted advertising was in 2007 when it tried to introduce its controversial ‘Beacon’ system.
Beacon was an advertising system implemented to exploit the power of "word of mouth" marketing, which inserted details of purchases made at participating websites into the news feed of Facebook users, making it visible to all their friends.