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EU Targets Facebook's Ad System 170

Posted by Soulskill
from the subtract-those-ads dept.
redletterdave writes "The European Commission plans to put a stop to the way Facebook gathers information about its users, including their political opinions, religious beliefs, whereabouts and sexual preferences, and how the social network sells that information for commercial purposes. A new EC Directive aims to ban targeted advertising unless users specifically allow it, and to amend the current European data protection laws to ensure consistency in how offending sites are dealt with across the EU. If the European Commission has its way, Facebook would suffer big losses in advertising dollars that fund its site, which would further damage the company's plans to go public next year. Facebook has defended itself, claiming its advertisers target wide demographics like age and location, rather than specific individuals. The Palo Alto, Calif.-based company denies outright that it misuses or mishandles user information."
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EU Targets Facebook's Ad System

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  • by clavo-t (831373) on Monday November 28, 2011 @03:18PM (#38193460)
    Those Europeans doesn't understand the right of an American company to do what they want wherever they want
  • by Moheeheeko (1682914) on Monday November 28, 2011 @03:19PM (#38193466)
    under options>settings>some data>settings options>options settings>user data>user data settings>user data settings options>ad's data>ad's data options

    Is that hard?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by tepples (727027)
      The easier way to opt out is not to sign up for Facebook in the first place. Or what am I missing?
    • by loftwyr (36717)

      But you have to opt-out for each ad as it appears on your page. That's the problem!

    • I'm all for this. I've been noticing ad's following me recently and it bothers me. For example the last few times I've been on /. the ads in the top right are reflecting places I have looked at on Newegg or Amazon. I would like to see this practice be curtailed and not just on facebook.
  • by Hentes (2461350) on Monday November 28, 2011 @03:20PM (#38193478)

    It's not just Facebook, many other companies like Google do this. But although this regulation has good intentions, like all attempts at regulating the Internet it will be counterproductive and unenforceable. The Internet is based on anarchy, that's what made it big and drives it today. Securing their data is the duty of the users.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 28, 2011 @03:26PM (#38193554)

      This is not regulation of the Internet. This is regulation of advertising.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by dave420 (699308)
      So Amazon should shut down, as no one can be expected to keep their credit card details secure on the net. Of course there should be regulation to protect people. Large websites, such as Amazon, Google, Facebook, et al. all can easily be assessed for compliance, and once compliant, a large part of the internet has been made compliant. How a user is supposed to actually *use* the internet without providing any data to it is going to severely limit the uses of the internet. We'll end up with LOLcats all o
      • by Tsingi (870990)

        So Amazon should shut down, as no one can be expected to keep their credit card details secure on the net. Of course there should be regulation to protect people. Large websites, such as Amazon, Google, Facebook, et al. all can easily be assessed for compliance, and once compliant, a large part of the internet has been made compliant. How a user is supposed to actually *use* the internet without providing any data to it is going to severely limit the uses of the internet. We'll end up with LOLcats all over the place, and nothing of any actual use.

        I don't think that the EU will forbid you to give your private data out voluntarily and for your own purposes. I believe the issue revolves around companies distributing your private data for their benefit and without your express permission.

        Express permission means "opt in" not "opt out". Opt out is often difficult if not impossible, especially in the case of facebook. Also it is not something that many, if not most, users know that they can do.

        You should add keeping IP addresses secret in your over

    • by forkfail (228161) on Monday November 28, 2011 @03:34PM (#38193646)

      What about Facebook's constantly morphing privacy and security policies? How can the user protect their data from that?

      • by Hentes (2461350)

        Don't use Facebook.

        • by forkfail (228161)

          But that's like saying, "Don't use the web".

          No, I'm not arguing that Facebook == the internet. However, if you're going to use the internet for anything other than getting docs, if you're going to use it for personal communication, then there has to be an element of trust with the entity that carries and stores your data.

          Would you say, "don't use email" if a bunch of providers out there started making the contents of your email public? Or how about if your bank started to publish your account balance - wo

          • by Hentes (2461350)

            It's not necessarily about not using the Internet, but rather not using unreliable services, and letting the free market sort out the trash. But yeah, there are many examples for why it is stupid to trust your email service or online bank with sensitive data.

          • by Patch86 (1465427)

            Would you say, "don't use email" if a bunch of providers out there started making the contents of your email public? Or how about if your bank started to publish your account balance - would it be your fault for having used on-line banking?

            I would say "don't use email provider ", or "don't use bank ".

            There are other social networking sites other than Facebook (dozens still current, hundreds been and gone). If people ditched companies that treated them badly, some of their competitors would eventually get big enough to topple them. Hell, Facebook did that to the likes of MySpace, and Twitter is arguably doing the same thing to Facebook now.

    • by pclminion (145572) on Monday November 28, 2011 @05:33PM (#38195004)

      Securing their data is the duty of the users.

      I don't think you understand the power of data mining. Humans are very, very bad at performing inference on many variables. Computers are very, very good at it. It's true that people have a responsibility to safeguard their own privacy, but that's no reason we should have artificial intelligence programs scanning people's every online move to infer as much as possible about them. That's fucking scary, and it's scary that you don't think it's scary.

      • by Hentes (2461350)

        I didn't say it's not scary, I said that legal solutions to technical problems rarely work. If you are afraid of being tracked, there are many technical solutions to avoid it.

        • by pclminion (145572)

          Just because a technical solution (may) exist doesn't mean we should solve a problem that way. Instead of laws against homicide, we could all just never leave our homes, or wear armor when we do. While this might seem empowering, it would make life suck.

  • by forkfail (228161) on Monday November 28, 2011 @03:22PM (#38193504)

    ... steps are taken to ensure that Big Brother doesn't get too big.

    While here in the US, those who most love to cite Orwell also tend to want there to be no limits to what corporations can do, even when it's the corporations (far more so than the government) that are filling the power niches.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by dave420 (699308)
      It's only ironic if you don't know what socialism is...
    • What's more ironic is that Orwell was a socialist himself. Interpreting 1984 as an attack on socialism is a gross misunderstanding - one that's taught by many teachers in the U.S. It's an attack on totalitarianism. Fascism, for example, is a free-market totalitarian system. Oceania was socialist because it represented Soviet Communism, the good intentions of Lenin warped into the totalitarianism of Stalin. It's important to note that Emmanuel Goldstein represented Trotsky, an opponent of Stalin's totalitari

    • by Nidi62 (1525137)
      Except it's not ironic, because in a socialist state (as they've been expressed throughout history) the government would of course not allow a private company to accumulate and control all this personal data on individuals. That's a right solely reserved for the government.
  • Don't post stuff to facebook that you wouldn't want public.

    I'm kidding, that's insane - who could possibly follow such a lunatic policy?

    • Personal rule of thumb: Don't share anything on FB you wouldn't willingly share to a person you got stuck in a broken elevator with.
      • Personal rule of thumb: Don't share anything on FB you wouldn't willingly share to a person you got stuck in a broken elevator with.

        Well, my conversation with other people in a broken elevator would concern the topic "how do we get out of here?"

        • by Tsingi (870990)

          Personal rule of thumb: Don't share anything on FB you wouldn't willingly share to a person you got stuck in a broken elevator with.

          Well, my conversation with other people in a broken elevator would concern the topic "how do we get out of here?"

          Elevators have notoriously poor internet connectivity. So it's unlikely that you would be able to Google how to get out of the elevator even if the information was available on FaceBook.

          Sorry state of affairs that.

  • by onyxruby (118189) <onyxruby@@@comcast...net> on Monday November 28, 2011 @03:24PM (#38193534)

    To understand facebook it might help to use google as an analogy.

    Google is an advertising company that happens to provide services that inspire people to see the ads that they sell.

    Facebook is a data mining company that happens to provide services that inspire people to provide the data that they sell.

    They both offer advertisements, the both do data mining. In many ways the companies are very very similar. The biggest difference is the interface that is presented to the public. They both offer most of their services in exchange for what they need to sell to make a living.

    If you don't want to pay the price than don't take the service they offer. Or, just click the buttons to avoid telling the world about the things you'd rather the whole world not know.

    /not a facebook fan and thinks people waste way too much time on it

    • the problem is, I can't fully opt-out of google!

      I build electronic things and I tend to frequent places like mouser and digikey to order my parts. how shocked I was to see googleapis listed in in the bottom tray of firefox as something was loaded from google. I have ZERO desire for my stuff to touch google. I'm trying to build a project. its none of their fucking business. but what requests are going to google? and WHY?

      more and more, I see google*this and google*that on varoius domains that my browser

      • by mmcuh (1088773)
        That annoys me as well. Why the hell are people using off-site javascript files in their webpages for things that could just as well have been done locally? Just copy the bloody files, it's not like there are no decent free javascript libraries.
        • by Bucky24 (1943328)
          A lot of times its for updates. As the AC below mentioned, YUI allows off-site hosting or on-site. I tend to use the off-site because if they put out a bug fix then it's updated automatically and I don't have to re-download whatever is affected. Also licensing issues might prevent the script from being hosted locally.
      • by bfree (113420)
        I use my hosts file (or dnsmasq) to point googleapis to my local apache which has a jquery mirror to match theirs.
      • by mcgrew (92797) *

        do no evil? bullshit.

        The motto wasn't "do no evil", it was "don't be evil."

    • by Tim C (15259)
      If we extend your "if you don't like the price, don't use the service" advice to the real world, you will see that despite having far more choice in e.g. where to eat, where to shop, etc, there are even more laws governing business practices.

      Just because people are free to take their business elsewhere doesn't mean businesses should be free to do whatever they like.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Only allow people to use their accounts if they agree to allow target advertisement... That would almost guarantee the majority will keep targeted advertisement over losing their accounts.

    Anybody honestly believe such a law will have much effect on a site like facebook? This law would be more effective against sites where there isn't an incentive to keep an account. Of course, they could have a clause in the law that forbids such requiring permission to have an account but kinda doubt they thought of that.

  • Easy opt-out (Score:4, Informative)

    by kelemvor4 (1980226) on Monday November 28, 2011 @03:35PM (#38193652)
    Adblock+ [adblockplus.org] works perfectly well for facebook just like it does for most other sites. I suppose an opt-in system is better, but adblock covers pretty much all websites while this half measure covers only facebook.
    • If people had to opt in for advertisements, advertising companies wouldn't make any money. In what world do you see that happening?

    • by bfree (113420)
      Maybe with the right list it will work, if so would you please tell us what list? The iframes to facebook php got past my browsers adblock plus and NoScript so dns seems the sanest way to cut them off at the knees,
  • by Oswald McWeany (2428506) on Monday November 28, 2011 @03:37PM (#38193670)

    The best way to avoid facebook getting your info:

    DO NOT SIGN UP FOR FACEBOOK.

    Yes, they have alternate ways of tracking you and getting your information- but if you don't sign up for facebook you get more spare time, and less privacy stolen.

    If you already are a member- quit now before you give away some other facet of your life.

    Honestly- we all know how evil they are by now- so why do people keep using them? Is it really worth giving away every piece of information of your life just to play crappy games (that most slashdotters could write a better version of in an evening).

    • by Sique (173459)

      And not going on sites that have a Facebook like button. Or are somehow affiliated with Facebook without telling you.

    • by Bucky24 (1943328)
      I use them mostly because anyone I want to talk to has moved away and that's the only way to get in touch. But also, as has been said on /. before, I have more control over my profile. Right now Facebook thinks I live in Timbuktu (it's pretty amusing to post something and see "near Timbuktu" on it), rather then being forced to use algorithms to determine where I am, which would probably be pretty accurate.
    • by Mitreya (579078)
      DO NOT SIGN UP FOR FACEBOOK.

      Also, remember to draw up a contract forcing your friends not to tag you. I hear that most unsigned people have a fairly comprehensive profile based on information provided by others. Not the same, but still

      Let me guess... you answer is get rid of every friend that signed up for facebook (and live in a glorious cave)? Reality has to set in somewhere. I minimize my exposure to facebook by only allowing facebook to run java script when I want to use every once in a few weeks (

  • by drachenfyre (550754) on Monday November 28, 2011 @03:40PM (#38193718) Homepage

    Seriously. If you aren't paying for it, you aren't the customer. You're the product being sold.

    • Seriously. If you aren't paying for it, you aren't the customer. You're the product being sold.

      That should be your sig line.

  • by StripedCow (776465) on Monday November 28, 2011 @03:42PM (#38193740)

    Facebook will simply solve this by presenting their users with an annoying popup that only goes away if you agree (opt-in) to the new EULA.

    So there's not much significance to all of this.

    • by Sique (173459)

      If this causes Facebooks popularity to detoriate, more power to the E.U.!

      • by Bucky24 (1943328)
        The problem is it won't. Most people will simply click through it, anxious to get on with their facebooking, without reading it.
    • by Carewolf (581105)

      No license or contract can legalize a crime. The only thing a facebook EULA can do is provide a set of terms the costumer needs to respect to receive the continued use of the product. The EULA can not take away any rights, and it can not give facebook any additional rights.

  • The press loves to get people all worked up about data mining. Data mining itself is not an invasion of privacy. At that point you are just an anonymous set of attributes. The purpose of data mining is to understand and discover the relationships that exist among different data. It's an analysis performed on a large body of data from a large population or it doesn't work. Your personal identity is not important or useful for its purpose. Targeted advertising isn't an invasion either even if it uses info
  • The Palo Alto, Calif.-based company denies outright that it misuses or mishandles user information.

    Does anybody believe this any longer?

  • When rights are revokable, they are useless. "If you want our service, you must agree to give up all your rights to sue, your right to due process, and your right to privacy." Well, then they aren't rights. When you must "explicitly" give permission, they will just add a single splash page that people will click through to get the service, then they will do the "illegal" things as before. The only "cure" is the anti-libertarian solution of preventing that contract. The person can agree to the boilerpla
  • Is it good that so generic social networking site is run by an advertising company? Facebook's importance in people's lives has risen so high that maybe it should be run by some party with no financial interests. Or for humankind it should be recommended for everyone to move to something like Diaspora.
  • I'd rather have adverts that are targeted to my personal interests and 'likes' than be bombarded with irrelevant crap that I'm not at all interested in. Do I want to have farmville adverts showing up on my FB page? No - I'm not a teenage girl. Do I want to be notified when ebuyer or have a sale on? Yes. What's more relevant to me; A band I like is playing a concert in my area, or, A rapper who makes my ears bleed is doing a gig in a different country?

    Say what you want about Facebook - but I like how the

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