Despite Facebook’s insistence on sworn secrecy, details of tomorrow’s meeting are leaking out. And from the sound of them, we can’t imagine why Facebook is annoying potential customers and making a fool of itself by bothering to making everyone sign NDAs. (Evidence that Zuckerberg is not 100% genius?)
On Friday, TechCrunch reported on “Project Beacon,” Facebook’s attempt to gather and store detailed data about users from activity on third-party sites (purchase habits, for example). This morning, the Journal’s Vauhini Vara and Jessica Vascellaro appear to be re-reporting the same info (with, ahem, no TC credit and fewer details):
Facebook Inc. plans to announce tomorrow that it will start letting advertisers interact with users even when they aren’t on the Facebook site, giving outside companies including movie services and studios a way to market and sell services, such as letting people watch films, within Facebook, and allowing for more targeted advertising, according to people familiar with the matter.
Facebook plans to give its users the option to let Facebook track their activity on advertisers’ Web sites outside of Facebook and share it with their friends, people familiar with the matter say. Users could share information about shoes or books they buy on online retail sites. Facebook also plans to begin allowing marketers to place more highly targeted ads on Facebook, based on information such as people’s interests and favourite movies. It also will charge outside companies for a set of tools that lets them provide services of their own within the Facebook site.
Some of this just doesn’t make sense (start letting advertisers interact with users when they aren’t on Facebook…by letting then watch films within Facebook?). But it does sound as though Facebook might be planning to use off-Facebook cookie tracking or user-reported tracking as a means of selling more expensive ads. If the company doesn’t want to be ridiculed from coast to coast for its absurd secrecy policies, there had better be more to Tuesday’s announcement than that.