With over 400 million members, Facebook has evolved to become an immense part of our daily, social lives. As many teenagers exhibit addictive behaviors, checking Facebook as much as every few minutes, the site has emerged as an unavoidable and influential part of society. Establishing a new method of communication and social interaction, Facebook opens new doors of opportunity and reveals an exciting new way for people to sustain relationships and share ideas by allowing people to contact old friends, communicate to a large mass of people or hold a one-on-one conversation, and express their personal interests and involvements.
Possessing these vast possibilities and becoming such a large aspect of our changing society, Facebook exhibits a new powerful and influential market for advertising. The site has previously utilized information given by the user, including their status updates, wall posts, age, gender, where they live, occupation, relationship status, and other content or pages a member “likes” to display certain advertisements to users on later visits. However, according to “Facebook tries out targeted ads,” Facebook is experimenting with new technology that “instantly targets ads based on the content of members’ wall posts and status updates, as the social network joins a growing list of Internet companies working with advertisers to market products related to a person’s interests or online activities at that moment.”
This method of advertising, currently used by websites such as Google, provides instant, targeted advertising in an opened webpage based upon the content of the browser’s search or profile. The extension of this capability to Facebook allows advertisers to reach the overwhelmingly large audience occupying the site in the exact instance they express an interest through the constant sharing of information with friends.
As Facebook is a very personal system of expression, this instant and customized mode of advertising establishes a possible positive aspect, exposing users to products of interest faster and easier. It also aids advertising companies, as they are able to target and better communicate with an audience already attracted to their product.
However, this also creates concern regarding the debate on what subjects to use for advertising, as Internet analysts realize the risk of alienating people who feel their personal lives threatened or infringed upon with advertising that seems “too relevant.”