Facebook Insists It Will Protect User Info

Still trying to justify its business practices, Facebook is reiterating its promise not to sell user information or disclose their personal identities to ad partners.

“These businesses don’t know who you are,” Rob Goldman, vice president of ads at Facebook, notes in a new blog post. “We provide advertisers with reports about the kinds of people seeing their ads and how their ads are performing, but we don’t share information that personally identifies you.”

“You can’t opt out of ads altogether because ads are what keep Facebook free, but you do have different options to control how your data can and can’t be used to show you ads,” he said.

While Goldman addressed consumers directly, his message was clearly intended for a larger audience, including lawmakers, privacy and consumer advocacy watchdogs, analysts, and investors.  

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As CEO Mark Zuckerberg has explained countless times over the past month, Goldman said the sole purpose of tracking user data is to serve them more relevant ads.

“We use this information to understand what you might be interested in and hopefully show you ads that are relevant,”Goldman said.

Addressing another topic raised during Zuckerberg’s grilling on Capitol Hill, earlier this month, Goldman tried to explain Facebook’s Pixel tool.

“Some of the websites and apps you visit may use Facebook tools to make their content and ads more relevant and better understand the results of their ad campaigns,” he said. 

“For example, if an online retailer is using Facebook Pixel, they can ask Facebook to show ads to people who looked at a certain style of shoe or put a pair of shoes into their shopping cart.”

Challenging a common refrain among critics, Goldman insisted that users (and their personal information) are not “the product. Our product is social media -- the ability to connect with the people that matter to you, wherever they are in the world,” he insisted.

“It’s the same with a free search engine, website or newspaper,” Goldman  continued. “The core product is reading the news or finding information -- and the ads exist to fund that experience.”

Yet, while Google is facing renewed scrutiny over its data business, Facebook has recently stood alone as an example of consumer technology run amok.      

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