Facebook has over 400 million active users. Can you even imagine how much freely given, highly accurate user data is stored on each of those accounts?
The marketing industry sure can, and so can criminals. To you, the benefits of Facebook lay in the fact that you can stay in touch with friends and family, meet new people and play a few games, but to the aforementioned interested parties, the information you provide is a clear route to your wallet.
How much is all this information worth? “You can’t put a price on it because there’s never been anything like it,” says Cappy Popp, founder the firm behind Doorbell – one of the top 100 most-used applications on Facebook.
According to PC World, SharesPost estimates the value of Facebook at around $11.5 billion. And thanks to the recent changes brought by the network’s Open Graph API, Instant Personalization and various social plug-ins, this number will continue to grow.
Instant Personalization has particularly caught the eye of various Facebook partner and would-be partner websites, since it offers a way to personalize their offerings to every Facebook users – a fact that should not only maximize user satisfaction and loosen up the strings of their purse, but also give the partner sites direct access to more information that they would otherwise be able to gather about you.
Advertisers and marketers are rubbing their palms together in satisfaction at the thought of having access to carefully selected groups of users that are formed by analyzing various demographic and psychographic information. It’s targeted advertising at its best.
Apart from inserting ads, companies can also use their Facebook account to mount successful campaigns that will raise user awareness about the company and the products they’re selling, and also allow them to take a peek into the users’ other interests if they “friend” them. And the same goes for the various firms that made it their business to offer games and various applications to the users. They have the double advantage of being able to harvest your data AND that of your “friends” if you haven’t specified otherwise.
Last but not least, we have the criminals. Technical flaws and social engineering, worms and phishing attacks are used by malicious individuals to break into your account, access the information in it and use it to perpetrate identity theft.
From all of this, you might – and rightly so! – come to the conclusion that everybody but you has the possibility of achieving material gain from your information. Granted, you didn’t join Facebook for monetary reasons, but doesn’t it seem unfair that the best thing that can hope for is that the information you shared is not used against you?