In what is likely to become the next privacy controversy for Facebook, the social-media giant is working with a big-data firm to correlate off-line purchases with ad views on Facebook.
And, surprise, opting out is trickier than Facebook’s typically difficult procedures.
The data aggregator is Datalogix, which claims to have information about consumer transactions worth $1 trillion and about almost every U.S. household. Most of that data comes from retailer loyalty-card programs, and includes hashed email addresses and phone numbers, and purchases linked to those accounts, according to a report issued by the nonprofit privacy-advocacy group Electronic Frontier Foundation.
The EFF report didn't make clear how long Facebook has had access to the data, which will help Facebook understand how ads on the social network impact real-world purchases. Being able to do so would make the social network more popular with advertisers.
Execs at Facebook told the foundation said that Facebook is after group patterns, and isn't tracking any individuals' purchases. Facebook also will disregard information not linked to one of its participants, according to the foundation. We've asked Facebook and Datalogix for comment and will update this post as soon as we hear back from them.
The foundation report says that if you're on Facebook, you are automatically in this data-sharing arrangement. There is no mention of this program on Facebook.com.
How To Opt Out
Opting out requires you to go to the Datalogix privacy page, which means that even most Facebook privacy-philes won’t know about the program.
At the privacy page, scroll down to the “Choice” section and click on the link in the last sentence of the paragraph that gives you the option to “opt out of all Datalogix-enabled advertising & analytic products.”
You will be prompted to enter your name, address and email address. Datalogix says people will be out of the program within 30 days.