Why it likes you.

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - FRONT PAGE -

NOW hold on Face­book, I’m sure I’ve never ‘‘ liked’’ that page. So how is it that I am a ‘‘ fan’’? Sneaky Face­book can let peo­ple de­cide what you like on your be­half. Ap­par­ently there are big bucks in what you like on the site with more than 955 mil­lion users, a val­u­a­tion of about $ 60 bil­lion and busi­ness de­rived pri­mar­ily from rather tra­di­tional on­line ad­ver­tis­ing.

The fact is, Face­book de­rives more than 80 per cent of its rev­enue from ads ( mostly, those of­ten ill- ad­vised ban­ner ads down the side of the page telling you about a Big Gay Boat Cruise and Sav­ing Tra­di­tional Mar­riage in the same breath). Some ads are a kind of so­cial mar­ket­ing, where a user ‘‘ likes’’ a prod­uct, which sup­pos­edly fur­thers so­cial re­la­tion­ships with com­pa­nies.

Face­book sells its ads by valu­ing this so­cial re­la­tion­ship at a cost of a thou­sand ad im­pres­sions, and the cost of a click.

Both forms of ads are tar­geted at you on the ba­sis of in­for­ma­tion you have vol­un­teered to pro­vide to the site, as well as what you share with your friends, what key­words you use in your sta­tus up­dates and what you ‘‘ like’’ else­where on the site. ‘‘ A ‘ like’ that doesn’t come from some­one truly in­ter­ested in con­nect­ing with a page ben­e­fits no one,’’ the Face­book se­cu­rity team writes. But who are they kid­ding?

It must ben­e­fit some­one, or there wouldn’t be a black mar­ket for Face­book likes. The Face­book se­cu­rity team are busily re­mov­ing ‘‘ likes’’ on pages that ‘‘ may have been gained by means that vi­o­late our Face­book terms’’. They prob­a­bly should be di­rect­ing their at­ten­tion to the tech­niques used to garner those disin­gen­u­ous likes in the first place.

Disin­gen­u­ous likes may in­clude ex­ploita­tion of fans whose in­for­ma­tion has been bought by com­pa­nies from other com­pa­nies, by spam ac­counts or by mal­ware.

So next time you won­der how on earth you came to like Vir­tual Bagel or Jeg­gings Are So Pants, rest as­sured it’s not you. It’s some pro­gram qui­etly ‘‘ lik­ing’’ things for you.

It’s a nice idea that the Face­book po­lice are out there zap­ping like- mag­net bots and mal­ware pro­grams.

But when you con­sider all the kids un­der 13 ( the site’s min­i­mum age for reg­is­tra­tion) who are Face­book­ing with­out a prob­lem, it’s lit­tle com­fort.

You may not like it, but you signed up for it. And per­haps you do like it – you just don’t know it yet.


With all the ‘‘ free’’ apps avail­able for your phone, tablet and desk­top, have you ever asked what it is you’re re­ally hand­ing over when you click on a free down­load?

It’s highly likely a free app will re­quire ac­cess to a va­ri­ety of facets of your phone’s per­sonal in­for­ma­tion, open­ing you up as a val­ued client for tar­geted ad­ver­tis­ing. Even if you did pay for the app, your phone maker or ser­vice provider prob­a­bly has in­for­ma­tion con­tracts in place any­way.


If you’ve vis­ited any web­site that en­gages in ad­ver­tis­ing, par­tic­u­larly in ‘‘ so­cial proof’’ type ad­ver­tis­ing ( where users are likely to trust the opin­ions of their friends and fol­low their lead in what to read or like), you’re fair game.

There’s also the sneaky ‘‘ iframe’’ trick with some fan pages, that en­ables them to ex­e­cute any kind of script within an­other page. For ex­am­ple, they can run a script that means you will au­to­mat­i­cally ‘‘ like’’ a page by sim­ply vis­it­ing a site out­side Face­book while logged in to Face­book.

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