Social network giant Facebook has come under criticism for targeting pregnant women with advertising specifically based on their due date and the expected gender of their unborn baby.

Whilst the feature of adding an unborn baby as a family member has been around since last year, an online parents group has raised concerns over how they feel it has now lead to Facebook using life event data – something it initially said it did not do.

The founder of Netmums, Siobhan Freegard said the manner in which Facebook was using people’s private data was quite disturbing.

She said: “What’s disturbing here is Facebook have told mums-to-be they are not collecting their information for marketing use – but then have done exactly that.”

The ‘expecting’ status was launched towards the end of July last year and allows users to input a name, if the parents have chosen one, and also the due date of their unborn child.

However, Facebook has always stood by the fact that it does not pass personal data on to advertisers, instead allowing them to target specific groups.

In fact, adverts relating to private information and searches are nothing new on the Internet, with various companies using PPC marketing to generate adverts which appear at the top and side of a users Google search following a search engine query. Facebook itself has utilised targeted advertising for quite some time on its social networking platform.

The push by Facebook to further monetise its services has seen the social networking giant develop number of strategies in regards to advertising – both online and mobile.

The firm has also recently found itself under close public scrutiny in regards to its privacy policy; yet in a public vote for users to continue having a say in regards to the policies, only 581,141 out of the services one billion users actually voted against the policy changes – a turn out of at least 30% was required in order for action to be taken.

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