As we reported last week, Facebook, Inc. (NASDAQ:FB) is launching a new gift service. Since the announcement, FB has surged in price during a period when the NASDAQ Composite Index and Dow Jones Industrial Average have been relatively flat.
Facebook also confirmed that it is selling advertisers more access to, and information about, its users. A program called Facebook Exchange (FBX) “gives marketers an opportunity to bid on showing ads in real time.” Using an assigned browser number (not Facebook ID), Facebook can notify marketers when users are online and they in turn can send ads relevant to the marketer’s and Facebook user’s prior relationship.
Also, marketers can now reach Facebook users based on information they already have, such as email addresses. A third feature is that marketers can now measure how effectively Facebook ads are driving actual sales.
As might be expected, these new services have aroused significant privacy concerns. Facebook says that it takes these concerns seriously and does not sell data about individuals to advertisers – or even let them see such data. However, given the amount of personal data held by Facebook, it is unlikely privacy concerns will go away.