Facebook outing gay men to advertisers

Don't click on that advertisement. Facebook is outing gay men.
Photo: Simon Husted / ThatGayMagazine.com

Facebook may be outing gay men, according to Wired.com.

A research group from the Max Planck Institute for Software Systems set to investigate the possible troubles associated with target advertising systems.

What they found was quite upsetting to a lot of people.

Basically, Facebook users are being outed to the website’s advertisers.

It’s no secret that advertisers on Facebook can track information about user preferences to determine which ads you will see on the sides of your profile. Well, the problem  researchers found is that advertisers can discern a user’s sexual preference and unique identifier (either an IP address or email account) if the user clicks on that advertisement.

The really shocking part to the researchers, was that the ads seem to target gay men more than lesbians, straight men or straight women. Half of the advertisements in the study were only shown to gay men, but the ad itself was fairly neutral.

For example, an advertisement that has nothing to do with sexuality, like say an online degree program, would only be popping up on gay men’s profiles.

This means, gay men have no way of knowing that what they are clicking on is going to out them.

So, if you think you do a great job of keeping your page private, think again.

This is actually just one of several major identity protection problems Facebook  is dealing with right now, although their official statement is that all information collected by advertisers must be made anonymous.

It’s unlikely anything will be done to fix this invasion of privacy until it’s too late, so think twice the next time you click on that ad.

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