This article was written for The Oracle.
Stacy Mazzara was checking her Facebook when she noticed the advertisements on the side of the page relating to her interests. Mazzara, a second-year communication and media and Spanish major, regularly checks her Facebook notifications and shares information with her friends.
“It has been recently occurring over the past year,” she said. “I get advertisements for things like Mando Books in New Paltz and sushi, and anyone could look at my Facebook profile and know that I go to SUNY New Paltz and that my favorite food is sushi.”
According to Facebook.com, it is home to over 500 million users who spend 700 billion minutes per month logged on sharing information.
“Advertisers are definitely taking advantage of social media,” said Judith Halasz, a sociology professor at SUNY New Paltz. “They can call information that users wouldn’t normally share with advertisers.”
Although the nation may be beginning to fear what Facebook is doing is an invasion of privacy, some on campus have conflicting views.
Mazzara does not think it is an invasion of privacy.
“I don’t feel like my privacy has been invaded, possibly because the ads that show up on my account tend to be pretty impersonal. Sometimes ads even pop up that relate to research I did for a class and have nothing to do with my own personal interest,” said Mazarra.
Robert Miller, a professor in the communication and media department, also agreed it is not an invasion of privacy.
“People are inviting advertisers on their pages based on what they put on,” said Miller.
However, Halasz disagreed and said advertising was never Facebook’s original intention. Facebook is a social network intended to bring family and friends together through status updates, photos and applications.
With all of the information they provide, users have the ability to control their privacy settings.
“Even if you make your profile private, Facebook is sharing your information with an entity that you don’t know,” Halasz said.
Miller urges users to be careful with the information they put out.
“People need to be aware of what kind of information they’re releasing,” said Miller. “They have to start making decisions about what they put online.”
Second-year undeclared major Julianne Moore has also recently found out that the advertisements on her page are based on her interests.
“I would always notice them on the side and think ‘Hey, I like that’ but never thought too much about it,” said Moore. “After awhile, I became suspicious about how advertisements always pertained to my specific interests and that’s when I figured out Facebook ‘sees’ what you like.”
The more people use the Internet, the more advertisers are likely to target consumers through it.
Miller does not feel it will have an effect on people’s use of the Internet.
“Ads will not attract people to social networks. Ads are attracting people who are already there,” said Miller.
Both Moore and Mazzara agree they will continue using Facebook and the Internet as well.
“I actually think it’s a good idea to have advertisements on the side of Facebook based on what you like,” said Moore. “If it’s something you like you will be interested and notice it.”