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Thursday, September 20, 2007

MySpace to Offer Customized Ad Spots

From "My Billboard" to "Deep Inside My Closet"

If you thought that MySpace, Facebook, and other social networking sites were the epitome of lost privacy before, wait 'till you hear what's up next. According to the September 18th article MySpace to Discuss Effort to Customize Ads by Brad Stone of the New York Times (also published here at CNet), some rather personal things will be up...for sale.

Imagine all your most passionate likes and dislikes. Imagine them placed in context, like where you go to school, what teams you root for, and your favorite hang outs. Imagine further that they're placed in an almost idealized demographic profile that you have personally, painstakingly tuned.

Now imagine that they're all collected in one place, magically. But wait...there's not really any need to imagine, because that's your (or your kid's) MySpace page. I've always referred to it as "My Billboard".

Now, imagine that all that information is now for sale to the highest bidder, in the form of targeted ad space on that MySpace page.

Do the advertizers know the details of your child's lives? Perhaps not (yet). But any notion that your MySpace information is "just for fun and friends" is now officially out-the-window. Termed "hyper targeting", it's only a matter of time and temptation before the target becomes dramatically -- identifiably -- small.

And, according to Stone,
MySpace also plans to give its advertisers information about what kind of people its ads have attracted. "We want them to leave knowing more about their audience then when they came into the door," Arnie Gullov-Singh, a senior director at Fox Interactive.

I'm with Jeff Chester of the Center of the Center for Digital Democracy, who said,
"People should be able to congregate online with their friends without thinking that big brother, whether it is Rupert Murdoch or Mark Zuckerberg, are stealthily peering in."

So, are you (and your kids) aware that "A Place for Friends" is about to be replaced by "a Goldmine for Advertizers"? Do you think that MySpace, FaceBook, and others are engaged in deceptive trade practices?

And, given that it's privacy we're talking about, does anybody under 25 care?

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