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Saturday 23 August 2014

Facebook pregnancy adverts: we all know the deal by now

Published 24/12/2012 | 10:28

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There is nothing remotely disturbing about Facebook pregnancy adverts. We all know the deal by now. What’s more troubling is the fact that expectant parents are sharing this information in the first place, argues Emma Barnett.

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The founder of Netmums is disturbed by the fact Facebook has started targeting pregnant women with advertising based on their due date and gender of their unborn baby. But why is Siobhan Freegard surprised or even disturbed?



Essentially Facebook is doing what it has always done: make money out of selling targeted advertising based on people’s stated interests and personal circumstances.



I understand that Freegard and others might be a tad bemused by Facebook’s change of heart – as it originally said it wouldn’t use such information to flog ads when it added the ability for members to list unborn babies as family members as family members last year.



But then again, Facebook is prone to regularly changing position on commercial possibilities and its privacy policy. It reacts to the market it finds itself in and exploits whatever business opportunity it can – because guess what? Facebook is a business, not a charity.



And as of May 2012 it became a publicly floated one at that – and now has to answer to Wall Street.

You do not pay cash to use Facebook. You pay with your data. That’s the deal. That’s how it’s been since 2004 when the site launched.



And since then, more than one billion people have signed up and have shared incredible amount of personal data for Facebook to make monetise.



What I personally find more disturbing are those parents, dads and mums, who choose to list their unborn and born babies on the site with their own hyperlinked names. The feature allows expectant parents to add a due date and even name the child.



When the ability was added last year, it was suggested that it was Facebook’s attempt to stop people creating profile pages for their unborn children. The social network’s rules state that all users must be at least 13-years-old.



However, regardless of the reason for it, this type of status update just looks disturbing when I have seen people do it on behalf of their offspring. Nor am I a fan of baby photos on Facebook in general. The child has no choice in the matter – although I do love seeing the latest images of my little cousins – but an email would be infinitely preferable.



If those mums and dads add information about their child on Facebook, born or unborn, of their own free will, (as weird as I find it), they – nor their advocates in the form of Netmums’s chief, can have a problem with receiving corresponding adverts.



What I do object to is the misuse of sponsored stories – which has seen my friends’ baby photos be misappropriated on occasion advocating various products.



However, this is not that. This is targeted advertising through and through. Don’t like it? Then stop sharing the contents of your womb with Facebook and its database of clients.



Emma Barnett Telegraph.co.uk

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