Facebook User-Data Gathering Goes Viral
When a company has news that they want buried, they issue their information on a Friday night and hope nobody in the media notices on Monday morning. Marred in controversy over their Beacon advertising platform, Facebook hoped that their latest attempt to gather more user-data would go unnoticed.
This means that Facebook’s user-behavior data stream is about to go viral.
As Mashable noted, “Users could now go about the Web, doing your own thing, but still be connected to their Facebook profiles.”
In the quest for more user-data, Facebook has exchanged its exclusivity on its apps for a free flow of cookie-based information. By using web apps to follow users through cookies, Facebook will be able to collect user data on any site that uses the API. This isn’t new, but by opening up the JS client library, the number of sites using Facebook apps will grow exponentially.
The timing of the release on their developer’s news page was perfect. They cannot afford another storm of bad press associated with collecting user data. Possibly in an effort to “smokescreen” it even more, they preceded the announcement with a “juicier” bit of news earlier that day, a partnership with Amazon Web Services.
Three important things were noted by Nick O’Neill on his unofficial Facebook blog:
- “Somehow nobody has seemed to take note of this significant step.”
- “Facebook has now implemented the ability to leverage cookies to access a user’s data even when they are not at your application.”
- “This is a huge step in Facebook extending their platform beyond the Facebook.com domain and letting people leverage the power of the ‘social graph’.”
The fact that nobody noticed the implications of this big news is by design. They will be better off easing this forward rather than blasting it over the intercom. The last thing they need is another user data controversy.
John Potter, ZDNet’s chief of development, said in his article, “With this new library, the number of sites, and site owners, that can deploy Facebook applications just increased dramatically.”
If this is true, than Facebook has opened up a humongous hole through which behavioral data will be flying into their databases.