Facebook Raises Privacy Concerns: Partnered Firm Can Track User Purchases

Online giant Facebook is raising fresh privacy worries over its ad tracking methods following news that the social networking company is now working with Datalogix, a firm capable of monitoring whether individuals shown online ads ultimately purchase advertised products.

The Financial Times reports that Datalogix "has purchasing data from about 70m American households largely drawn from loyalty cards and programmes at more than 1,000 retailers, including grocers and drug stores. By matching email addresses or other identifying information associated with those cards against emails or information used to establish Facebook accounts, Datalogix can track whether people bought a product in a store after seeing an ad on Facebook."

Identifying information, including emails, are anonymized prior to a report being prepared that enables clients and advertisers to determine which ads are working.

However, some privacy advocates wonder whether ad tracking of this nature would fall afoul of a $9.5 million settlement Facebook entered into in respect of claims that it violated its privacy promises to Facebook users. This is the case not least because Facebook users cannot opt out via Facebook itself but instead must visit a separate site. 

Facebook has faced questions in some quarters over the value of its advertising. A drive to demonstrate more clearly the return on investment for advertisers may explain the social networking company's relationship with Datalogix. 

Headline image: Global X


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