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Facebook Ads Could 'Out' Gay Users

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the i'll-out-gay-you dept.

Facebook 196

itwbennett writes "Researchers at Microsoft Research India and the Max Planck Institute for Software Systems in Germany have written a paper showing that a users may be inadvertently revealing their sexual preference to advertisers. 'One example was an advertisement for a nursing program at a medical college in Florida, which was only shown to gay men. The researchers said that persons seeing the ad would not know that it had been exclusively aimed at them solely based on their sexuality, nor would they realize that clicking on the ad would reveal to the advertiser, by implication, their sexual preference in addition to other information they might expect to be sent, such as their IP (Internet Protocol) address.' For its part, Facebook 'downplayed the study, saying that the site does not pass any personally identifiable information back to an advertiser.'"

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Rule number 1 (5, Insightful)

Capt.DrumkenBum (1173011) | more than 2 years ago | (#33991674)

Never put anything on Facebook that you would not tell your parents and your boss.

Re:Rule number 1 (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#33991762)

Rule number 2: Clicking an ad sends information you didn't know was on your facebook to your parents and your boss.

Re:Rule number 1 (1, Funny)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | more than 2 years ago | (#33991824)

You mean your rainbow flag PNG and the photo taken on Sir Ian McKellan's lap didn't give it away? How about that status update: "You GO girl!"

Rule # 3 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33992404)

YOU DONT talk about fight club

Re:Rule number 1 (4, Funny)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 2 years ago | (#33991926)

Clicking an ad turns you gay, according to TFA.

Re:Rule number 1 (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#33992146)

such as their IP (Internet Protocol) address

I am so glad the fine summary expanded that abbreviation for us. The Slashdot crowd would have a really hard time knowing what an IP address is, that it refers to the Internet Protocol, and would never figure out how to look up such information if in doubt. That's a fine service the submitter and editors have done for us. They clearly know their target audience -- what professionals they are! I can see why the editors are too busy to perform basic proofreading, spellchecking, and the correction of blatantly inaccurate claims.

By the way, just keep using Facebook. It's the tool of choice for the dumb masses. Keep using Facebook and then keep acting surprised when yet another privacy violation happens. It amuses those of us who know better and I mean it's high-quality entertainment. The only people who know entertainment like that are the shrinks who work at mental institutions who get to watch a retard (or "window licker") bang his head against the wall over and over and then complain that his head hurts. Actually the Facebook geniuses are even more funny, because they think they're normal. At least the retard in the institution has admitted that he has a problem and is seeking treatment for his brand of insanity.

Re:Rule number 1 (0, Flamebait)

xenn (148389) | more than 3 years ago | (#33992618)

such as their IP (Internet Protocol) address

By the way, just keep using Facebook. It's the tool of choice for the dumb masses.

Oh, it's so damned simple isn't it? I suggest you Tool off back to ToolLand (R) (TM) ..tool

Re:Rule number 1 (2, Funny)

AnonymousClown (1788472) | more than 2 years ago | (#33992286)

Clicking an ad turns you gay, according to TFA.

It's a good thing I turned off the ads here on Slashdot! One accidental click and BAM! I'm gay!

I don't think I clicked on any ads in the past....

geeze! I gotta do something about the color scheme in this office! It's just so......oh no.

Re:Rule number 1 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#33992350)

That's some potent voodoo!

Re:Rule number 1 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#33992180)

Rule number 3: Facebook is ghey.

It's not Facebook's fault that you use Safari. (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#33992382)

Maybe you just shouldn't use Safari when accessing Facebook. It's not Facebook's fault when your browser sends a Safari user-agent string, some third-party advertiser notices this when a request is made for their ad, and they serve up an ad targeting homosexuals. That's just what you get when using a browser, operating system and hardware that are almost exclusively preferred by homosexuals around the world.

Re:Rule number 1 (2, Insightful)

Threni (635302) | more than 3 years ago | (#33992904)

Rule number 3 - ad blockers are free. Use them.

Re:Rule number 1 (4, Insightful)

rainmouse (1784278) | more than 2 years ago | (#33991858)

Never put anything on Facebook that you would not tell your parents and your boss.

Being fired for content on my facebook account about my private life is just a labour saving service. It saves me the hassle of having of having to research if I'm working for snooping, big brother dickheads and then quitting.

Re:Rule number 1 (1)

pspahn (1175617) | more than 2 years ago | (#33992140)

Which these days is pretty much everyone. Self-employment ftw.

Re:Rule number 1 (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33992458)

Never put anything on Facebook that you would not tell your parents and your boss.

Being fired for content on my facebook account about my private life is just a labour saving service. It saves me the hassle of having of having to research if I'm working for snooping, big brother dickheads and then quitting.

So do you work for a place that drug tests? Because drug tests are not like a breathalyzer. A breathalyzer tests whether you are drunk right now and therefore would be completely appropriate for a workplace. It does not test whether you've had alcohol in the last 1-4 weeks without distinguishing whether you did so on your own time or your employer's time.

Drug tests, on the other hand, make no attempt to distinguish your employer's paid time from your own private time away from work. The employer's only legitimate concern is whether you are sober while you're on the job. What you do in your private time is between yourself and the state. Yet it lets them be snooping, big brother dickheads and monitor your private time too. Like Facebook, it's a way for them to find out "oh no, you did something we don't approve of, so now we're going to punish you for that." They stupidly do this no matter how productive you are as a worker and even though you, as a professional, maintain a clear separation between your private life and your working life.

Employment is becoming more and more like running for public office. It is increasingly ruling out all except for two classes of people: the goody two-shoes who never broke a rule in their life because they worship authority with no regard for its legitimacy, and the dangerously deceptive who are very good at living double lives and covering up their tracks. This is not good for society. Some of the wisest and best among us made mistakes and did things they were not proud of before they saw the error of their ways and became better people. The trend now is for every little thing, including victimless crimes, to become a permanent stigma that forever closes doors in your life.

One other related topic. Why is there even such a thing as an arrest record? I can understand a conviction record, but an arrest record? Really? What kind of fascist wet dream is that? Fascists just love thought processes like "well, he must have been doing SOMETHING wrong even though the state with its overwhelming resources couldn't come up with evidence of that" as though the police are omniscient and never make mistakes, as though false accusations are never made. Really fascists love any reason to turn someone else into a second-class citizen, especially if that person has done them no harm and has no ill intent.

What REALLY amuses me is the sheer irony of those who would enforce their Puritannical beliefs on others at every opportunity because the person did something that offends their "Christian values" while forgetting that anyone who has ever actually read the words of Christ knows that Jesus's main teachings were forgiveness and non-judgement. It's not only Christians who do this, of course. There are many secular fascists. It's just extra ironic when people who call themselves Christian display such hypocrisy to cover up their authoritarian eagerness to condemn.

Re:Rule number 1 (1)

couchslug (175151) | more than 2 years ago | (#33992118)

"Never put anything on Facebook that you would not tell your parents and your boss."

Never put anything on the internet you wouldn't post on 4chan.

Re:Rule number 1 (2, Insightful)

fabioalcor (1663783) | more than 3 years ago | (#33992496)

Never put anything on Facebook that you would not tell your parents and your boss.

... and your wife/girlfriend and your kids and and your friends and your enemies ...

Re:Rule number 1 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33992880)

A co worker (who is gay), was sending around a screen shot of his facebook page as a quick and easy way to show some of us what a third person we all knew but were not "facebook friends with" was he posting. In the screenshot was ads obviously relating to being gay. We already know the guy is gay but if we didn't, it would have raised some suspicion.

Re:Rule number 1 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33993216)

Never put anything on Facebook.

Fixed that for you.

Uhm... right.. that's because they're so ethical r (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#33991682)

FB seems a little ethically challenged.... HEY! /. uhhh... you wouldn't disclose MY identity to FB now would you!!!!

(Please stay anonymous.... please stay anonymous...!!!!)

Step 3 PROFIT !! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#33991688)

Man do you need underpants or do you need underpants?

Re:Step 3 PROFIT !! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33992982)

Pretty sure that facebook could out-gay any underpants or profits therefrom.

Which part of this is "inadvertent"? (5, Insightful)

bhartman34 (886109) | more than 2 years ago | (#33991698)

The ads were served to males who declared themselves to be interested in other males, and females who declared themselves to be interested in other females.

Exactly where is the problem here? The users are outing themselves. Shouldn't this be filed under, "...and water is wet"?

Re:Which part of this is "inadvertent"? (1)

corbettw (214229) | more than 2 years ago | (#33991736)

The problem is that, if you click on the ad, now the advertiser has a record of who's gay and who's straight (the study showed that variants of the ad were displayed to users based on their gender and orientation). Just because it's on your Facebook status, doesn't mean you want the whole world to know.

Re:Which part of this is "inadvertent"? (3, Insightful)

bhartman34 (886109) | more than 2 years ago | (#33991838)

If it's on your Facebook status, and you don't have it covered with restrictive privacy settings, you de facto do want the world to know.

I'm all for privacy being respected, but if you put something out there, and don't take the proper precautions that it be hidden if you want it to be, it's on you, not on Facebook. They can't make it much easier to control who sees what. The kind of concerns being raised here were valid maybe a year ago.

Re:Which part of this is "inadvertent"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#33991968)

Just RTFA, and I didn't see any mention of whether the sexual orientation was being hidden via the privacy settings at all. If it is, and if Facebook's own policies say they won't allow this, then I don't see anything wrong with calling them out on it. Call it fraudulently sharing people's personal data.

Note, I don't use Facebook, and don't really know what they're exact policies are regarding this type of stuff.

Re:Which part of this is "inadvertent"? (1)

bhartman34 (886109) | more than 2 years ago | (#33992342)

The only problem I can see for Facebook is that advertisers are violating their policy not to show ads based on sensitive demographic information (age, sex, presumably sexual preference). They certainly need to crack down on advertisers violating the policy, but users still have the ultimate control over how much they share. Advertisers don't need to know your sexual preference unless you made it public. And if you made it public, whose fault is that?

Re:Which part of this is "inadvertent"? (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 2 years ago | (#33991976)

It's on facebook the moment that claim it's private.

Re:Which part of this is "inadvertent"? (4, Insightful)

bhartman34 (886109) | more than 2 years ago | (#33992214)

I think you're misunderstanding something. You can make sexual preference private, or not. Hell, you don't even have to disclose your preference, if you don't want to. Now, if advertisers are somehow getting around people's privacy preferences, and accessing that information without it being public, that's certainly a Facebook problem, but I don't see anywhere in TFA where it says that.

The only problem I see in the article is that advertisers aren't supposed to be using sensitive demographic information (sex, gender, presumably sexual preference) to do the targeting. But that's already a violation of Facebook's policies. Facebook should deal with that, I suppose, but even if they do nothing, users can still control what advertisers see. If sexual preference is the kind of information you consider to be only your (or your friends') business, you should configure your profile appropriately. At best, the researchers are causing a tempest in a teapot. There's a fairly easy fix that anyone can implement, without Facebook having to do anything.

Re:Which part of this is "inadvertent"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33993264)

Eh? Gender is "sensitive demographic information"? Of all the possible things for advertisers to know about the probable user on the other end, this is one that I'd find least objectionable. I have no interest in being shown advertisements for MaxiPads, and I suspect there are a limited number of women who have an interest in being shown ads about NFL football.

Re:Which part of this is "inadvertent"? (3, Interesting)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 2 years ago | (#33992022)

It's not even an issue with privacy settings though. I just read this part of the summary and went, "uhh, well yeah, duh!"

The researchers said that persons seeing the ad would not know that it had been exclusively aimed at them solely based on their sexuality, nor would they realize that clicking on the ad would reveal to the advertiser, by implication, their sexual preference in addition to other information they might expect to be sent, such as their IP (Internet Protocol) address.

So essentially, if you had been on any site, and you clicked on the advertisement from any website, your IP address would get sent so that you can be redirected from the adserver to the website. (This is how they know the Ads are working, if it was a direct link to the website, the adserver wouldn't be the proper referer). So now the adserver has your IP and will use BY IMPLICATION your sexual preferences. Seriously, this doesn't even DEAL with Facebook.

So the question is whether the ad is being shown to them based on their information - whether Facebook is giving up the information in the first place. Now thats a big doozy. It hasn't been proven, but its highly suspected. I would normally think that Adservers are catering to me based on my IP, but I've had other people use my computer and its shocking how the ads immediately cater to them after starting a facebook session.

Then there's this juicy nugget.

For its part, Facebook 'downplayed the study, saying that the site does not pass any personally identifiable information back to an advertiser

Emphasis mine. Well - no, it's not sending it BACK to the adserver, the adserver hasn't made a request yet. Facebook says to itself "I need to load a page. There's going to be an advertisement here. Hey advertising server, here's who is lookin'" and the Adserver serves up the correct ads.

Devil's in the details, right?

Re:Which part of this is "inadvertent"? (2, Informative)

corbettw (214229) | more than 2 years ago | (#33992224)

Did you not read the article? This was information that was marked as private, but obviously is not. That's the problem.

Re:Which part of this is "inadvertent"? (1)

bhartman34 (886109) | more than 3 years ago | (#33992416)

This was information that was marked as private, but obviously is not. That's the problem.

Did you read the article? Nowhere does TFA say that the information was culled from people who'd marked their sexual preference as private. All the article said was that the users didn't know why the ads were served to them, because that wasn't disclosed. It also said that it's against Facebook policy to target users based on "sensitive" demographic information (age, gender, and presumably sexual preference). If the article had said that sexual preference was hidden by the users, that would be worth a story.

Re:Which part of this is "inadvertent"? (1)

russotto (537200) | more than 2 years ago | (#33992272)

If it's on your Facebook status, and you don't have it covered with restrictive privacy settings, you de facto do want the world to know.

But this can happen regardless of your privacy settings. You set your profile to include the fact that you are gay. You make that private, and manage to keep it private no matter how many times they change things. But the fact that it's private doesn't mean advertisers can't target ads based on it. So the advertisers set up an ad which doesn't look like it has anything to do with sexual preference, but is targeted to gay men. Now anyone who responds to that particular ad is known to have a facebook profile they are saying they are gay men. Of course, the opportunities for abuse are large. The example in the article of a nursing program, for instance : perhaps anyone who applied to the program via THAT ad would be rejected out of hand.

Re:Which part of this is "inadvertent"? (1)

bhartman34 (886109) | more than 3 years ago | (#33992438)

But this can happen regardless of your privacy settings. You set your profile to include the fact that you are gay. You make that private, and manage to keep it private no matter how many times they change things. But the fact that it's private doesn't mean advertisers can't target ads based on it.

Do you have a source for that information? The article doesn't say that advertisers are targeting private information, or that they can see private information.

Re:Which part of this is "inadvertent"? (1)

WillDraven (760005) | more than 3 years ago | (#33992872)

The example in the article of a nursing program, for instance : perhaps anyone who applied to the program via THAT ad would be rejected out of hand.

So they're going to spend money on an advertising campaign to solicit applications from.. people they don't want as clients?

What?

Re:Which part of this is "inadvertent"? (1)

Arancaytar (966377) | more than 3 years ago | (#33992712)

So if your options are set not to display a profile field to people other than your friends, does that also mean Facebook will not use it in targeted advertising?

Re:Which part of this is "inadvertent"? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33992972)

dude. if you're gay just come out. we're all ok with that.

Re:Which part of this is "inadvertent"? (1)

cheekyjohnson (1873388) | more than 3 years ago | (#33993244)

"If it's on your Facebook status, and you don't have it covered with restrictive privacy settings"

I thought that (at least, I heard they used to) Facebook sold some of your personal information no matter if you had them hidden with 'privacy' settings or not. Is that not true?

Re:Which part of this is "inadvertent"? (1)

phyrexianshaw.ca (1265320) | more than 2 years ago | (#33991894)

Just because it's on your Facebook status, doesn't mean you want the whole world to know.

see what you did there? kinda contradicted yourself. if you post something on a site that's ABOUT sharing information with the world, (that openly has told people that several times) and only pretends to keep information private so people will stop thinking about it: it's public.

as much as people want to keep secrets, they seem to be really REALLY -REALLY- fucking bad at it. if you want to keep your preferences a secret: don't post them in "a secret corner of the internet"... there are none.

and for the record: I have a public facebook profile, that contains VAST amounts of data about who I am, where I am, even how to get a hold of me. I like people to be able to get any information they want about me: regardless of the scope of that. I have NO illusion's of privacy to my information on the net. the internet is a bulletin board: anybody can post, anybody can read, and anybody can edit. at anytime. with OR WITHOUT making a note about what they did.

Re:Which part of this is "inadvertent"? (1)

MichaelKristopeit 98 (1926410) | more than 2 years ago | (#33992020)

more importantly, a fact you're completely ignoring, just because it's on your facebook status, doesn't mean it's true.

Re:Which part of this is "inadvertent"? (4, Insightful)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | more than 3 years ago | (#33993106)

"Just because it's on your Facebook status, doesn't mean you want the whole world to know." Wait. (looks ^ at address bar) It says yro.slahsdot.org up there. Damn, I thought maybe it was portal.twilight.zone or some such. DAMMIT man! Have you been paying attention, or not? EVERYTHING ON FACEBOOK is accessibly by anyone with the will to snoop. It doesn't even require much skill - just the will to snoop. One more time: if it's on the intartubez, it ain't private. Go to the blackboard, and write that one thousand times for the class, please.

Re:Which part of this is "inadvertent"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33993134)

Well same goes for if you tell facebook you like video games and they advertise video games. They do this, and if you click, they know it's for reals! Oh no! So what? Nothing wrong with that, nothing wrong with being gay either. Don't click the ad if you don't want them to know stuff.

Re:Which part of this is "inadvertent"? (1)

LBArrettAnderson (655246) | more than 2 years ago | (#33991802)

I've never been a paranoid one, and even in this case I don't think it's a *huge* deal (it's certainly a deal, but not a huge one), but I think what they are getting at is that this gives them the ability to connect the dots. Say you have an ad for a job opening that is only shown to gay people. User clicks said ad, and is sent to a specific entry point which can be recorded. User proceeds to apply for job. I'm not sure that this can cause much damage... if they weren't looking for gay people they wouldn't have posted ads to the... but I can definitely see paranoid people not liking this (and I'm not saying they are wrong in feeling this way, just that I'm not quite as paranoid). I'm sure a lot of people have their sexual orientation public on facebook, but don't tell their coworkers or employers (Oscar from the office until season 3 episode 1, for example).

Re:Which part of this is "inadvertent"? (1)

TaoPhoenix (980487) | more than 2 years ago | (#33991834)

Exactly, and this is different than "Joe likes Red Cars" because it starts tying in a preference that has social implications.

Re:Which part of this is "inadvertent"? (3, Insightful)

hedwards (940851) | more than 2 years ago | (#33991928)

I'm not aware of anybody being raped for liking red cars. Being raped for being gay, definitely happens. Because clearly gay men are just confused, it couldn't possibly be for other reasons.

Which is really your point. Given the degree amount amount of homophobic bigotry and violence, I'm not really sure that FB should be facilitating anything like this. Plus, is there really a legitimate reason to be advertising things which aren't gay specific to only gays? I mean I can understand targeting gay bars to gay men, but nursing school?

Re:Which part of this is "inadvertent"? (3, Interesting)

Nikker (749551) | more than 3 years ago | (#33992606)

I have to admit I'm curious, why would someone rape another man because he has sex with other men? Do heterosexual male rapists avoid lesbians on principal and moral or did I miss something?

Re:Which part of this is "inadvertent"? (1)

veganboyjosh (896761) | more than 3 years ago | (#33992752)

Rape is rarely about sex. It's usually about power.

Re:Which part of this is "inadvertent"? (1)

causality (777677) | more than 3 years ago | (#33992766)

Rape is rarely about sex. It's usually about power.

Sounds like rape and politics have a lot in common.

Re:Which part of this is "inadvertent"? (1)

bhartman34 (886109) | more than 2 years ago | (#33992088)

Sure, but I think this is a problem on the user end. It doesn't have anything to do with Facebook, per se. If a user is paranoid about it, they can hide their preferences from non-friends or simply not disclose it.

I'm not saying people don't have a cause to be cautious about what to disclose to whom. I'm just saying that it looks to me like Facebook gives you all the tools you need to avoid disclosing things you don't want to disclose to strangers.

Re:Which part of this is "inadvertent"? (1)

siriuskase (679431) | more than 3 years ago | (#33993238)

Has nothing to do with your privacy settings. It has everything to do with clicking on an ad that only a member of a targeted group can see. If you can click on the ad, you must be a member of the target group.

Re:Which part of this is "inadvertent"? (1)

bhartman34 (886109) | more than 2 years ago | (#33992362)

I'm sure paranoid people wouldn't like it. But paranoid people have the option of either hiding their sexual preference or omitting it altogether. It's not required information, and it's not information that's required to be public.

Re:Which part of this is "inadvertent"? (1)

causality (777677) | more than 3 years ago | (#33992664)

I'm sure paranoid people wouldn't like it. But paranoid people have the option of either hiding their sexual preference or omitting it altogether. It's not required information, and it's not information that's required to be public.

There's that word again. Please see this post [slashdot.org] . I'd be interested in your feedback.

Re:Which part of this is "inadvertent"? (4, Insightful)

causality (777677) | more than 3 years ago | (#33992640)

but I can definitely see paranoid people not liking this (and I'm not saying they are wrong in feeling this way, just that I'm not quite as paranoid).

I really don't know what has happened in the last several years. The desire that people not know information that is none of their business is suddenly described as "paranoid", a term for a medical disorder. This is absolutely bass-ackwards. In fact, it's downright pathological and a great example of Newspeak. It so clearly serves those who wish to deny privacy that it's bordering on the miraculous that most people don't notice. Really, only large masses of people could be so stupid/blind/oblivious/whatever you want to call it.

I say we turn the tables. Let's stop using words like "paranoid" to describe people who want random strangers to leave them alone. Instead, let's choose a word that's the inverse of "paranoid" to describe the asshats who intrude into the lives of others and then claim that data as their own to use as they please. I tentatively suggest "Orwellian" but am open to suggestion. Maybe Panopticonians would work, except that fewer than six syllables would be a plus.

Re:Which part of this is "inadvertent"? (1)

bieber (998013) | more than 2 years ago | (#33992132)

The issue is that you could have your information set to private, but it will still be used by Facebook's advertising system to determine who to show ads to. So while a potential employer may not be able to look you up on Facebook and find out that you're gay, they could find out that you had clicked on an advertisement that had been served exclusively to gay users (although the ad may not have indicated in any way that it was only targeted at homosexuals). It's an awfully sneaky way to get around privacy settings, basically.

Re:Which part of this is "inadvertent"? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#33992392)

I have had gay targeted ads show up on my facebook before. It has been awhile though. My sexual preference is left blank, but I must have an unusually high percentage of gay male friends. I'm out to most people so it didn't out me or anything, but it was kind of scary that it could correctly guess my sexual preference.

Re:Which part of this is "inadvertent"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33993164)

The ads were served to males who declared themselves to be interested in other males, and females who declared themselves to be interested in other females.

Exactly where is the problem here? The users are outing themselves. Shouldn't this be filed under, "...and water is wet"?

That is not true. FB seems to assume that any adult male that is "in a relationship" but nothing else is gay.

When I first signed up to FB, I put in the minimum information and left most stuff blank. It kept on giving me these ads for various dating services. I don't cheat on my girlfriend, and I didn't want to get those ads.

So, I changed the relationship status from not specified to "in a relationship". At once, I got gay-oriented ads. I tried to ignore them, but when it became continuous I changed the "interested in" section from not specified to "women". The gay ads vanished and the dating service ads reappeared!

Sheesh.

Cowboys fans, beware! (1, Funny)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | more than 2 years ago | (#33991700)

We're on to you...

Re:Cowboys fans, beware! (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 2 years ago | (#33991972)

You caught me, I'm a grits lover.

Re:Cowboys fans, beware! (1, Insightful)

pspahn (1175617) | more than 2 years ago | (#33992178)

You can't be trolling if you're just ripping on fans of a rival team. Have a sense of sportsmanship modder.

soooo..... (2, Insightful)

Dthief (1700318) | more than 2 years ago | (#33991710)

outed by clicking on stereotypically "gay" ads......what do you expect.....you do things labeled as gay, or follow things labeled as "gays' interests" and people will assume you are gay.

Plus the ads were targeted at people whose profiles explicitly said they were gay, so how was anyone/any fake profile "outed"

Re:soooo..... (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 2 years ago | (#33991798)

If only someone would write an article explaining what the problem is...~

ROFLCOPTER (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#33992074)

Your "new punctuation" is gay.

Re:soooo..... (1)

Bill Dog (726542) | more than 2 years ago | (#33992368)

The problem is that in general, disclaiming use of any "personally identifiable information" is cover and a ruse. What consolation is it if major web sites know almost everything about me except my name? I don't want to be identified, but that doesn't mean I don't mind being catalogued out the wazoo. My personal characteristics are part of my identity, afterall.

A nerdy analogy: A database table has columns for every possible personal characteristic of human beings, except their name or SSN or other fairly uniquely identifying single-valued field. Well, the whole damn row is a fairly unique, composite key. Pinpointing me. So it's a distinction without a difference.

Re:soooo..... (1)

TaoPhoenix (980487) | more than 2 years ago | (#33991804)

That's two fierce posts so far which are doing the "narrow interpretation of the facts" thing.

The thing is, maybe you outed yourself under one site, maybe even a pseudonym, you get served a certain ad. That advertiser sells that site's user info to its other marketing partners. Except because the user entered their info to something else, and now that ad ring has a preference attached to that email address anywhere on the net.

This is seriously in "well *this time* they restricted it to openly declared profiles, but *next time* it will get served to anyone who has pink chickens in Farmville."

Re:soooo..... (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#33991904)

No, you don't understand. Facebook has a policy saying they won't disclose personal info, like what age you are.

Now, suppose an advertiser says "target this ad at people born in October of 1978" ... Facebook says "OK". So all of these people's birth months are revealed to the advertiser, in violation of the policy. Thru essentially costless micro-targeting, advertisers (or any attacker with $) can dig out whatever info they want. There's a simple and obvious way for an attacker to get a list of people based on a piece of information Facebook has said they're keeping private.

There is a big difference between someone clicking on an ad for, say, a gay-dating site -- when you click on an ad, you know you are implicitly signaling some level of interest in its content to the advertiser -- and clicking on an ad (*any* ad, it could be for a car or for dog food ... the content of the ad could have *nothing* to do with the audience targeting) that happens to be targeted based on a specific database query.

If a piece of information is promised to be kept private, private should not equal "disclosed to third parties who pay us."

Re:soooo..... (1)

insufflate10mg (1711356) | more than 2 years ago | (#33992402)

No, you don't understand. Facebook has a policy saying they won't disclose personal info, like what age you are.

You're 100% right. Sexual orientation, however, is not private and is publicly displayed - there is nothing to "disclose," the user discloses it to the whole internet voluntarily.

Re:soooo..... (1)

pspahn (1175617) | more than 2 years ago | (#33992202)

Sorry for stereotyping, but it's like the way a lot of them speak. They sound gay. Why exactly is that? Is it because they want to speak that way or is it some kind of genetic thing? Seriously.

Re:soooo..... (1)

compro01 (777531) | more than 3 years ago | (#33992442)

AFAICT, the "gay lisp" appears to either be a myth or is a regional thing. None of the gay men I know exhibit it in the slightest.

workaround is obvious (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#33991722)

Don't mention in your FB profile that you are gay, or a member of this or that race or ethnic group or have such and such religious beliefs.

Second workaround: don't join FB.

Third workaround: don't clickthru on ads for nursing programs for men.

Re:workaround is obvious (1)

pspahn (1175617) | more than 2 years ago | (#33992228)

don't clickthru on ads for nursing programs for men.

I'm not really sure what makes male nurses gay. My ex-gf is a nurse as are all her friends, and of the guys I met that are nurses, none of them were gay. I get the whole maternal desire to care for people and that it might attract a higher-than-average amount of gay men, but being a male nurse does not make you gay.

If they didn't know (4, Insightful)

Dayofswords (1548243) | more than 2 years ago | (#33991738)

[...]such as their IP (Internet Protocol) address.

If you don't know what IP stands for in 'IP address' then you're on the wrong site.

Re:If they didn't know (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#33991856)

Oooh, so it's not an Intellectual Property address!

Re:IP (3, Interesting)

TaoPhoenix (980487) | more than 2 years ago | (#33991864)

The MAFIAA is furiously trying to make "IP" mean "Intellectual Property" in the public mindshare. The ugly thing is when you smash both acronyms into the same sentence you get Halloween Horror.

"I recorded that this IP is stealing my IP and demand he be sued into bankruptcy".

So Facebook is serving targeted advertising... (1)

TermV (49182) | more than 2 years ago | (#33991788)

Isn't this the point of Facebook? Let's be honest, Facebook is a marketing platform that provides a social networking service in return for payment in the form of your personal information. You post information about yourself on the site, and the site serves you targeted advertising. If you tell Facebook your sexual orientation then you've outed yourself already. It would be a different story if they were analyzing your friend list and your "like" pages and deducing that you were gay. Then you'd have grounds for outrage.

This just in... (3, Insightful)

Nethemas the Great (909900) | more than 2 years ago | (#33991792)

Facebook makes money by data mining its users.

Re:This just in... (1)

phyrexianshaw.ca (1265320) | more than 2 years ago | (#33991912)

news at eleven.

Re:This just in... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33992976)

Slashdot posters out gay Facebook posters anyday!

Re:This just in... (1)

insufflate10mg (1711356) | more than 3 years ago | (#33992428)

Wrong. Facebook makes money by providing users with a place to post information about themselves publicly. The point of using Facebook is to provide information to the public, and accept or deny communication with third parties accordingly. Nothing forces anyone to click an advertisement; the /. crowd is just extremely sensitive to issues that may have anything to do with Facebook privacy concerns.

OK... (1)

Lanteran (1883836) | more than 2 years ago | (#33991888)

there's a spot in there for filling out sexual orientation, you suddenly are surprised that you're getting highly directed ads? OTOH, you're using facebook, and you're surprised that you're getting highly directed ads?

Re:OK... (4, Informative)

zerocool^ (112121) | more than 2 years ago | (#33991952)

According to several of my (very out) gay friends, putting your sexuality on facebook tends to lend its self to a lot of random messages from people who want to meet up at truck stops.

No joke.

Re:OK... (1)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 3 years ago | (#33992596)

According to several of my very not-gay friends, having someone switch your sexuality on facebook tends to lend its self to a lot of random messages from people who want to meet up at truck stops.

Reminds me of Project Gaydar (4, Informative)

Khopesh (112447) | more than 2 years ago | (#33991910)

A year ago, some MIT undergrads wrote up a short piece called Project Gaydar [boston.com] which showcased how they were able to successfully identify gay men who were still in the closet.

Facebook might not expose this information directly (via the "sexual preferences" profile information), but your friends list is enough to extrapolate it. Since there's money in that kind of data and it is easily fetched via the Facebook API, it's being done.

Re:Reminds me of Project Gaydar (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#33992032)

Just the other day someone claiming to be straight complained, either here or on reddit, about seing facebook adds targeted for gay people.

Re:Reminds me of Project Gaydar (1)

Lanboy (261506) | more than 3 years ago | (#33992562)

This happened to me, but I found out that I had messed up my profile questions. FUNNY. If you check that you are interested in people of your own sex, facebook does the math, and targets advertisements likely to be interesting to what they presume is your sexual orientation. I know where to go to buy a gay cruise, for instance.

Re:Reminds me of Project Gaydar (1)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 3 years ago | (#33992814)

I know where to go to buy a gay cruise, for instance.

But do you know where to cruise for gays?

Bada-Bum!

Re:Reminds me of Project Gaydar (1)

pspahn (1175617) | more than 2 years ago | (#33992264)

From the article you cited:

The two students had no way of checking all of their predictions,

Sounds like they didn't actually "successfully identify gay men" to me.

Re:Reminds me of Project Gaydar (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33992530)

A few years ago, my friends at the time got onto my myspace account and set my preference to "Gay". Every single ad was for gay hookups.

Not sure what the point of this is. It's just an obvious target to data mine.

So, this is awkward. (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 2 years ago | (#33991990)

FB just totally came out of the closet and everybody has missed the point. Can a website even be gay? Isn't that just a matter of improperly coding the API?

Avoid clicking on adds!! Use AdBlock!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#33992008)

Come out of the closet at your own time...

Facebook Ads Could Out-gay users (1)

iSzabo (1392353) | more than 2 years ago | (#33992092)

This is how I originally read the title; I was promptly sadly mistaken.

You know how I know you're gay? (1)

cobrausn (1915176) | more than 2 years ago | (#33992112)

You click on ads on Facebook.

Does not pass any personally identifiable info... (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Showered (1443719) | more than 2 years ago | (#33992270)

Facebook DOES pass personally identifiable information, albeit inadvertently.

As a Facebook Ads user, I have tracked down people who have clicked my ads EASILY.

How?

Your unique Facebook user ID is passed through the refer string each and every time you click on an ad.

Simply copy down this ID and paste it in the USERID variable below.

http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=USERID [facebook.com]

Tada.

Doubt it (1)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | more than 3 years ago | (#33992424)

My icon on FB was a pic of the Seattle Space Needle with a rainbow flag on it, but FB still has advertisers acting like I watch Fox News and like NASCAR, so I'm not that worried about it.

Even if I am straight, liberal, and think NASCAR is a waste of gas.

Heuristic algorithms are only as good as the programmers - or AI.

So I screwed up my profile and initially... (2, Interesting)

Lanboy (261506) | more than 3 years ago | (#33992546)

Said I was interested in men rather than that I was a man. So I got some really really gay targeted ads. Gay dating services, special razors to shave with, all very fun. Try it and see.
The real issue is that the current terms of service allows yhem to share your groups and interests, which likely can identify you as being close to the GLBC.

 

Lesson learned from a previous incident (5, Interesting)

microbee (682094) | more than 3 years ago | (#33992560)

I sometimes hang out on a web forum, and they have a special forum where you could post anonymously - it's not really anonymous, as you still need to login and post, but the postings do not show your user id or IP addresses, so it appears totally anonymous, except to the web admins. So people post a lot of random crazy stuff there which would embarrass themselves if it had not been anonymous.

Then one day the forum upgraded their software, and due to a bug, all posts inside that anonymous forum suddenly showed all user IDs - including the old ones. That quickly turned into a sh*tstorm as people ran around screaming in panic with their underwear.

The lesson: do not post anything if you don't want others to find out it's you.

Wait, what? (3, Interesting)

Arancaytar (966377) | more than 3 years ago | (#33992686)

Are male nurses required to be gay?

Re:Wait, what? (4, Insightful)

guyminuslife (1349809) | more than 3 years ago | (#33992912)

Yeah, exactly. This is why we have a national shortage of nurses. It's because straight men don't want to go into a profession where their job title is the same as the word for "have a baby suck milk form your boobs." On the other hand, there's no shortage of male "paramedics."

Facebook trust means nothing (1)

Greymoon (834879) | more than 3 years ago | (#33993008)

Facebook has your info, thank you. Your fucking privacy means nothing to them and they will sell it whenever it suites them. Buy a fucking clue.

"Facebook 'downplayed the study...." (1)

Hasai (131313) | more than 3 years ago | (#33993228)

"....saying that the site does not pass any personally identifiable information back to an advertiser.'"
....Unless there's money involved.
];)
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