CookieLaw Blog September 25, 2014

Facebook’s Tracking Reach has Publishers Concerned


Facebook Like and sharing buttons have become pretty much ubiquitous on websites over the past few years.  They have helped website owners reach new audiences by encouraging visitors to share and comment on content with their friends.

However, recent changes in policy at Facebook now has many websites concerned, and thinking about calling time on this strategy, according to a recent article in the Wall Street Journal.

These buttons, which are also provided by many other social platforms, enable Facebook to identify the visitors to these sites, via the user profile information stored in cookies set through the tags that display the buttons.

All of which means the buttons allow Facebook to know more about the visitors to the site than website owners themselves can know. Of course this has been known about and accepted as a trade off by publishers for some time, as it helps them build audiences and visitor numbers.

However, due to recent changes in policy, Facebook is now exploiting this information more than ever before, to increase its level of targeted marketing.  The outcome of which, as publishers are starting to find out, is that visitors to one site, can subsequently see targeted adverts from direct competitors that are willing to pay for them.

This is obviously not good news for publishers, especially those that are not advertising on Facebook themselves, and has many re-thinking their strategy, and potentially pulling the buttons from their sites.

So if you have Facebook like buttons, but do not advertise on the platform, your website may  just as likely to be supporting your competitors marketing, as it is your own.

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