Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Facebook is a window to your soul...

...and your pocketbook. Wired is currently featuring an article about how marketers use your public social-networking data to sell you things. If you've got a Facebook page, it's worth reading.

I'm of two minds about this. It instinctively creeps me out, knowing I'm under marketers' microscopes. The people who sell us stuff are extremely good at their jobs. They're so good, they've managed to turn "shopping" into a leisure activity. And their message is more layered than people realize. When a hypnotist says, "do you notice how sleepy you're feeling?", the language-processing part of your brain has to subconsciously accept the feeling sleepy part to process the grammar of the question. And any reflexive answer you give subconsciously assumes you're feeling sleepy. And ads do the same thing. You accept their subtext to process their message. They're not just selling you a laptop; they're selling you on the whole concept that you need a new laptop, that your two-year-old computer is now obsolete. They aren't just selling you beer; they're selling you the concept that you'll have more fun and people will like you more when you're drinking. And you can't fight both messages at once. According to NLP theorists, you subconsciously accept one message to reject the other. People who make ads do this kind of manipulation on purpose; they modify your perceptions of the world to make you more likely to buy their products, and the cumulative effect is staggering. And I'm not comfortable giving them too much information about me.

On the other hand, we do buy stuff, and ads are everywhere anyway. If better target marketing will reduce the ads aimed at me to things I'm actually interested in, that's not such a bad use of my personal information.

And, I'm really not seeing it as a privacy issue. It's on Facebook -- it's inherently public information, and information you entered yourself. If you want to keep something private, my deep advice is to keep it off the internet....

No comments: