Facebook: Will Users Do "About Face" Over Info Tracker?


Facebook introduced a new ad platform last week, and since then dissent in the media has been slowly growing. After all the buzz about the hot Internet 2.0 company, it remains to be seen if Facebook will fall flat when it actually comes to delivering promised ad revenue.

The idea of Facebook's new ad platform is to mine the personal data in your Facebook page to find ads suited to you. Brands can build their own Facebook profiles: say, I could become a friend of a "Cheerios profile," which is pretty innocuous.

But the next part is a bit more suspect. A service called Facebook Beacon tracks a user's activity on affiliated sites, like STATravel.com, a student travel site, and reports the activity back to Facebook, sometimes revealing this info as an "endorsement" on your page. But do you really want information on where you're buying a ticket to or what movie you're renting broadcast to your network (and their network) of friends and acquaintences.

So, here come the accusations of piracy violation, you know, 1984, Big Brother. Perhaps the more relevant question: Will Facebook users mind if the details of what they're buying are known to Facebook? And will the ads related to that information work? Facebook is hot now, but if the ads cross the line, this is certainly a demographic that's been known to jump ship to a newer, cooler service.

Speaking of which, here's the latest ranking of social networking sites and blogs from Nielsen for October 2007 (based on unique audience): Myspace is still number one, with 58.8 million unique visitors in October 2007, up 19% over October 2006. Facebook is number two, with 19 million uniques, up a whopping 125%. Pretty amazing how much smaller Facebook's usership is, with all the buzz you'd think it was breathing down MySpace's neck.

Also a fast grower--Linked In is number six, its uniques up 189% in October from the previous year to 4.9 million. And Club Penguin, which Disney just recently bought a majority stake in is up 157% to 3.9 million. The biggest decliner on the top ten list is AOL People connection, its traffic down 30% year over year.

Questions? Comments? MediaMoney@cnbc.com