Newsflash: Facebook Not "Cashing In On Friends"

Facebook is planning to exploit the vast amount of personal information it holds on its 150m members by creating one of the world’s largest market research databases.

That’s how this Telegraph article kicks off in a report that was widely quoted by a ton of tech news sites and blogs. Sure enough, the article was based on an interview with Randi Zuckerberg, Facebook’s Global Markets Director and Mark Zuckerberg’s sister, so it had to be true, right?

Well, no.

AllFacebook’s Nick O’Neill, who had also penned a piece based on the Telegraph article, has since gotten in touch with the company’s communications department and cites Facebook representatives claiming that the piece is factually incorrect in its entirety and based on misinterpreted statements from Randi Zuckerberg.

We’ve reached out to the company for more insight on this.

Facebook has been experimenting with real-time polls in Davos this year and also have been rolling out the Engagement Ads system that is designed to leverage Facebook’s vast amount of data on users to improve targeted advertising, but claims that they’ll be turning the social network into one of the “world’s largest market research databases” seem to be a bit over the top in any case.

Update – here’s Facebook’s response:

“The polls run at the World Economic Forum were not part of a commercially available product for advertisers and should not be confused with Facebook’s Engagement Ads. At WEF, Facebook ran a series of polls to provide the Davos audience with real-time insight into the opinions of people outside of the conference. These polls were conducted on Facebook using internal tools.

Engagement Ads have been available since September and take five different forms. Most recently, Facebook began testing an Engagement Ad where advertisers can pose a question within the ad itself.

Facebook has, for many years, allowed the targeting of advertising in a non-personally identifiable way, based on profile attributes. Nothing has changed in our approach, and Facebook is committed, as always, to connecting users in a trusted environment.”