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False and Misleading Data Devalues Facebook

  • Ad Age, Tuesday, October 30, 2007 9:45 AM
Facebook's user info may not be kosher for advertisers. For one thing, you can't always trust online users--especially young online users--to provide accurate information. There is an awful lot of role-playing on the Web, but to a larger extent, social network users like to fib. A Pew study says that 56% of teens post false items on their social networking profiles. That, by the way, includes MySpace founder Tom Anderson, who's been lying about his age to his hundred million-plus friends since day one. Anderson's profile says he's 32, but reports claim he's pushing 40. That puts him in another demo, altogether.

However, advertisers won't necessarily care as long as most users tell most of the truth on their profiles--a site like Facebook would still allow for the highest degree of targeting available to them. But the truth is, they won't know how effective the new advertising system (slated for release next week) is until they test it.

A greater concern will be the effectiveness of a user's so-called social graph. As one professor warns, older folks' personal networks won't necessarily reflect their real-life personal networks, because fewer of their friends and colleagues would use Facebook or MySpace, leaving advertisers with "a lot of irrelevant information."

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