Facebook selling information to companies compromises users’ privacy

Khadija Saifullah

Facebook Advertising
Khadija Saifullah

As if Facebook has not tracked our searches enough, they are about to get even more detailed information about our interests. As digital natives, these changes end up affecting college students the most as our lives become more intertwined with dependence on social media.

“I don’t see how the purpose of Facebook has changed. I still use it is to stay in touch with people,” math senior Dennis Ortega said. “It’s just that now there are more ads than ever before, which can be irritating because our personal information is becoming less and less private.”

The social media company is rolling out two new ad products targeted specifically at small businesses: The first allows small businesses to target their advertisements based on where their customers actually are, and the second enables businesses to find out the demographics of all Facebook users who have visited their area.

This new strategy would affect a lot more users than expected, creating a larger pool of personal data than Facebook already possesses. An average of 1.01 billion users visit the site every day. According to CNBC, advertising revenue — the majority of Facebook’s sales — jumped 45 percent from the prior year. Tracking users’ locations accounted for 78 percent of these sales.

The momentous outreach potential and scale of Facebook allow the company to invest heavily in the technology necessary to have its success targeted in the future of advertising. It possesses one of the largest databases of personal information and uses this extensive base to its advantage. As this medium becomes more corporate, it incessantly extracts more user data for its own ad sales. Yet, because of increasing dependence on the most popular social network, users continue using this site, and the trend will continue as time progresses.

Walking down memory lane, most college students made Facebook profiles before their high school graduation. Since then, the purpose of using the site has expanded from a medium to maintain contact with friends and family to being used as a way to collaborate on coursework or starting a small business.

Social media profiles are the invisible component of every job and graduate school application that doesn’t get pushed under the rug as much as we would think. With time, more of our information would be made public, and strangers could identify more about us than our acquaintances could. As students, we are reminded of the fact that our activity log on social media is nothing but transparent and accessible to more than just our friends list.