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Facebook Ads Could 'Out' Gay Users 196

Posted by timothy
from the i'll-out-gay-you dept.
itwbennett writes "Researchers at Microsoft Research India and the Max Planck Institute for Software Systems in Germany have written a paper showing that a users may be inadvertently revealing their sexual preference to advertisers. 'One example was an advertisement for a nursing program at a medical college in Florida, which was only shown to gay men. The researchers said that persons seeing the ad would not know that it had been exclusively aimed at them solely based on their sexuality, nor would they realize that clicking on the ad would reveal to the advertiser, by implication, their sexual preference in addition to other information they might expect to be sent, such as their IP (Internet Protocol) address.' For its part, Facebook 'downplayed the study, saying that the site does not pass any personally identifiable information back to an advertiser.'"
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Facebook Ads Could 'Out' Gay Users

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  • Rule number 1 (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Capt.DrumkenBum (1173011) on Friday October 22, 2010 @06:54PM (#33991674)
    Never put anything on Facebook that you would not tell your parents and your boss.
  • by bhartman34 (886109) on Friday October 22, 2010 @06:56PM (#33991698)

    The ads were served to males who declared themselves to be interested in other males, and females who declared themselves to be interested in other females.

    Exactly where is the problem here? The users are outing themselves. Shouldn't this be filed under, "...and water is wet"?

  • soooo..... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Dthief (1700318) on Friday October 22, 2010 @06:57PM (#33991710)
    outed by clicking on stereotypically "gay" ads......what do you expect.....you do things labeled as gay, or follow things labeled as "gays' interests" and people will assume you are gay.

    Plus the ads were targeted at people whose profiles explicitly said they were gay, so how was anyone/any fake profile "outed"

  • by Dayofswords (1548243) on Friday October 22, 2010 @06:59PM (#33991738)

    [...]such as their IP (Internet Protocol) address.

    If you don't know what IP stands for in 'IP address' then you're on the wrong site.

  • Re:Rule number 1 (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 22, 2010 @07:00PM (#33991762)

    Rule number 2: Clicking an ad sends information you didn't know was on your facebook to your parents and your boss.

  • This just in... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Nethemas the Great (909900) on Friday October 22, 2010 @07:01PM (#33991792)
    Facebook makes money by data mining its users.
  • by bhartman34 (886109) on Friday October 22, 2010 @07:05PM (#33991838)

    If it's on your Facebook status, and you don't have it covered with restrictive privacy settings, you de facto do want the world to know.

    I'm all for privacy being respected, but if you put something out there, and don't take the proper precautions that it be hidden if you want it to be, it's on you, not on Facebook. They can't make it much easier to control who sees what. The kind of concerns being raised here were valid maybe a year ago.

  • Re:Rule number 1 (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rainmouse (1784278) on Friday October 22, 2010 @07:07PM (#33991858)

    Never put anything on Facebook that you would not tell your parents and your boss.

    Being fired for content on my facebook account about my private life is just a labour saving service. It saves me the hassle of having of having to research if I'm working for snooping, big brother dickheads and then quitting.

  • by hedwards (940851) on Friday October 22, 2010 @07:13PM (#33991928)
    I'm not aware of anybody being raped for liking red cars. Being raped for being gay, definitely happens. Because clearly gay men are just confused, it couldn't possibly be for other reasons.

    Which is really your point. Given the degree amount amount of homophobic bigotry and violence, I'm not really sure that FB should be facilitating anything like this. Plus, is there really a legitimate reason to be advertising things which aren't gay specific to only gays? I mean I can understand targeting gay bars to gay men, but nursing school?
  • by pspahn (1175617) on Friday October 22, 2010 @07:40PM (#33992178)

    You can't be trolling if you're just ripping on fans of a rival team. Have a sense of sportsmanship modder.

  • by bhartman34 (886109) on Friday October 22, 2010 @07:44PM (#33992214)
    I think you're misunderstanding something. You can make sexual preference private, or not. Hell, you don't even have to disclose your preference, if you don't want to. Now, if advertisers are somehow getting around people's privacy preferences, and accessing that information without it being public, that's certainly a Facebook problem, but I don't see anywhere in TFA where it says that.

    The only problem I see in the article is that advertisers aren't supposed to be using sensitive demographic information (sex, gender, presumably sexual preference) to do the targeting. But that's already a violation of Facebook's policies. Facebook should deal with that, I suppose, but even if they do nothing, users can still control what advertisers see. If sexual preference is the kind of information you consider to be only your (or your friends') business, you should configure your profile appropriately. At best, the researchers are causing a tempest in a teapot. There's a fairly easy fix that anyone can implement, without Facebook having to do anything.

  • Re:Rule number 1 (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 22, 2010 @08:06PM (#33992458)

    Never put anything on Facebook that you would not tell your parents and your boss.

    Being fired for content on my facebook account about my private life is just a labour saving service. It saves me the hassle of having of having to research if I'm working for snooping, big brother dickheads and then quitting.

    So do you work for a place that drug tests? Because drug tests are not like a breathalyzer. A breathalyzer tests whether you are drunk right now and therefore would be completely appropriate for a workplace. It does not test whether you've had alcohol in the last 1-4 weeks without distinguishing whether you did so on your own time or your employer's time.

    Drug tests, on the other hand, make no attempt to distinguish your employer's paid time from your own private time away from work. The employer's only legitimate concern is whether you are sober while you're on the job. What you do in your private time is between yourself and the state. Yet it lets them be snooping, big brother dickheads and monitor your private time too. Like Facebook, it's a way for them to find out "oh no, you did something we don't approve of, so now we're going to punish you for that." They stupidly do this no matter how productive you are as a worker and even though you, as a professional, maintain a clear separation between your private life and your working life.

    Employment is becoming more and more like running for public office. It is increasingly ruling out all except for two classes of people: the goody two-shoes who never broke a rule in their life because they worship authority with no regard for its legitimacy, and the dangerously deceptive who are very good at living double lives and covering up their tracks. This is not good for society. Some of the wisest and best among us made mistakes and did things they were not proud of before they saw the error of their ways and became better people. The trend now is for every little thing, including victimless crimes, to become a permanent stigma that forever closes doors in your life.

    One other related topic. Why is there even such a thing as an arrest record? I can understand a conviction record, but an arrest record? Really? What kind of fascist wet dream is that? Fascists just love thought processes like "well, he must have been doing SOMETHING wrong even though the state with its overwhelming resources couldn't come up with evidence of that" as though the police are omniscient and never make mistakes, as though false accusations are never made. Really fascists love any reason to turn someone else into a second-class citizen, especially if that person has done them no harm and has no ill intent.

    What REALLY amuses me is the sheer irony of those who would enforce their Puritannical beliefs on others at every opportunity because the person did something that offends their "Christian values" while forgetting that anyone who has ever actually read the words of Christ knows that Jesus's main teachings were forgiveness and non-judgement. It's not only Christians who do this, of course. There are many secular fascists. It's just extra ironic when people who call themselves Christian display such hypocrisy to cover up their authoritarian eagerness to condemn.

  • Re:Rule number 1 (Score:2, Insightful)

    by fabioalcor (1663783) on Friday October 22, 2010 @08:11PM (#33992496)

    Never put anything on Facebook that you would not tell your parents and your boss.

    ... and your wife/girlfriend and your kids and and your friends and your enemies ...

  • by causality (777677) on Friday October 22, 2010 @08:32PM (#33992640)

    but I can definitely see paranoid people not liking this (and I'm not saying they are wrong in feeling this way, just that I'm not quite as paranoid).

    I really don't know what has happened in the last several years. The desire that people not know information that is none of their business is suddenly described as "paranoid", a term for a medical disorder. This is absolutely bass-ackwards. In fact, it's downright pathological and a great example of Newspeak. It so clearly serves those who wish to deny privacy that it's bordering on the miraculous that most people don't notice. Really, only large masses of people could be so stupid/blind/oblivious/whatever you want to call it.

    I say we turn the tables. Let's stop using words like "paranoid" to describe people who want random strangers to leave them alone. Instead, let's choose a word that's the inverse of "paranoid" to describe the asshats who intrude into the lives of others and then claim that data as their own to use as they please. I tentatively suggest "Orwellian" but am open to suggestion. Maybe Panopticonians would work, except that fewer than six syllables would be a plus.

  • Re:Rule number 1 (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Threni (635302) on Friday October 22, 2010 @09:17PM (#33992904)

    Rule number 3 - ad blockers are free. Use them.

  • Re:Wait, what? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by guyminuslife (1349809) on Friday October 22, 2010 @09:18PM (#33992912)

    Yeah, exactly. This is why we have a national shortage of nurses. It's because straight men don't want to go into a profession where their job title is the same as the word for "have a baby suck milk form your boobs." On the other hand, there's no shortage of male "paramedics."

  • by Runaway1956 (1322357) on Friday October 22, 2010 @09:48PM (#33993106) Homepage Journal
    "Just because it's on your Facebook status, doesn't mean you want the whole world to know." Wait. (looks ^ at address bar) It says yro.slahsdot.org up there. Damn, I thought maybe it was portal.twilight.zone or some such. DAMMIT man! Have you been paying attention, or not? EVERYTHING ON FACEBOOK is accessibly by anyone with the will to snoop. It doesn't even require much skill - just the will to snoop. One more time: if it's on the intartubez, it ain't private. Go to the blackboard, and write that one thousand times for the class, please.
  • Re:Rule number 1 (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 22, 2010 @10:17PM (#33993284)
    Here, I'll quote that first line again, for some reason, even though it's totally irrelevant:

    such as their IP (Internet Protocol) address

    And then farther down, the line I am actually going to respond to:

    Oh, it's so damned simple isn't it? I suggest you Tool off back to ToolLand (R) (TM) ..tool

    Yeah, it's so damn simple. Real simple. Stupid simple. Any-moron-can-understand-it simple. Here, let me show you. Do any one of these three things and you will NEVER have the problems we keep seeing article after article about.

    • Find a service that really respects you instead of viewing you as an exploitable resource to be plundered whenever possible, or
    • Use Facebook and use it responsibly by never disclosing anything you wouldn't want the whole world to know, or
    • Realize how easy it is to live a full abundant life without Facebook (Protip: people communicated with friends before Facebook existed, and if Facebook goes away they will do so after it is gone)

    That simple enough for ya? Go ahead, find a flaw in any of it. I dare you. If you can't, then YOU sir are the tool because between us, you're the only one who can call people names but can't articulate his position. Will you be humiliated by an AC? Let's find out. If you take the coward's way out and ignore this post, the reason why will be self-evident.

    Your move.

  • Re:Wait, what? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by guyminuslife (1349809) on Saturday October 23, 2010 @02:39AM (#33994566)

    I don't get the funny mod. I was being 100% serious. Nursing isn't a "manly" enough field, there's a social stigma (albeit, a shrinking one) attached to being a "male nurse," so many men who would otherwise be talented at it shy away; this has caused real shortages in healthcare.

    Ideally speaking, there should be more women in engineering as well, but fortunately for current engineers' supply/demand curve, there aren't.

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