Friday, 23 April 2010

Facebook: building a web where the default is social

The BBC report here that Facebook has set out its stall to unseat Google and be at the heart of the web experience as it becomes more social. This is achieved through what Zuckerberg calls "your social graph" to guide users online, and an open graph protocol to let publishers tag their content by type along with a "Like" button that partner sites put on their webpage to indicate what they like on a website, be it photographs, news items, clothes or music. That information will then be stored by Facebook in the way it already stores connections between people. Advertising Age record here Ian Schafer, CEO of Deep Focus, commenting that "Facebook potentially could power an all-knowing behavioral-targeting platform the likes of which we've never seen before."

This comes as Facebook are under renewed scrutiny as data protection authorities from a range of countries held a teleconference this week to discuss how they can work together to protect what they see as a steady erosion of privacy. The European Union too is studying what role it can play. Facebook added fuel to the debate by deciding in December 2009 to substantially change its privacy settings, effectively making members' profiles more openly accessible unless users altered the settings themselves (see Reuters here).

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I am director of the Media and Persuasive Communication (MPC) network at Bangor University where I also lecture on political-economy of the media. I am currently working on a book provisionally titled Deconstructing Privacy for Peter Lang and leading two empirical projects in connection with privacy perception and the use of new media for smoking cessation. I am author of Creativity and Advertising: Affect, Events and Process (Routledge, 2013); The Mood of Information: A Critique of Behavioural Advertising (Continuum, 2011); and Digital Advertising (Palgrave-MacMillan, 2009). Please contact me at if you are interested in Ph.D supervision or consultancy services.