Posted: Jul 29, 2009 3:32 PM
Updated: Jul 29, 2009 3:32 PM
There's a warning for Facebook users - your face could be saying things you don't want it to on the Internet.
"I love Facebook. It's awesome, I've reconnected with old friends," said Donna Shiele.
Shiele says she's on the popular social networking web site everyday.
Her husband Michael is what you'd call a casual user, which is why he was particularly stunned the other day when updating his profile.
He noticed one of the ads on the side of the page.
"Typically, I don't pay too much attention to them, but this one photo stuck out, because it was a photo of my wife," Michael said.
It wasn't just any photo, this one had a caption.
"Hey Michael, hot new singles waiting for you," he read. "Whoa, wait a minute, this is my wife. Why is my wife advertising hot new singles?"
"I'm hot, but I'm not single. I'm married," Donna said. "Who knows who else's page it came up on. What are they thinking? I'm not too crazy about it."
Whether it was a coincidental, random misappropriation or highly targeting advertising gone awry, the practice happens. Facebook gets permission to use members' information in ads to their friends by default.
But this is something else, involving third-party companies.
"They're basically using your information for their gain," said IT consultant Brent Ward, adding that it is "absolutely not" legal for them to use the photos in that manner.
Ward says it can happen when you download an application or become part of a larger network, where you have no idea how your image may be used.
"Your picture is now on their web site. That application is going to use whatever pictures it wants to use. It could be random, it may not be targeting you specifically, but it's random and can change every time you view that page," Ward said.
Facebook says the practice is a violation of its policies and should be reported to the company. But it's clear with social networking the new media, it is a brave new world, where technology allows Internet users to be used in ways they never imagined.
"I think a lot more outrage will happen if this type of issue continues," Ward said.
"We laughed about it, but it could have went the other way," Shiele said.
There are ways you can disable the information that's available to other Facebook users. On the homepage go to "Settings," click "Privacy," then "News Feed Wall," then "Facebook Ads." Once you're there, select "No one."
Be on the lookout, though, third party apps can still pirate your face. Facebook says it's trying to stay vigilant to keep bad ads from appearing on their site.
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