A gremlin inside Facebook – or more likely a disgruntled employee – briefly hacked Facebook in the last few hours. They went in to the Facebook advertising page and changed the title description from “Advertising” to “Lying”. How do I know? An observant informant emailed me the screen grab before the page was changed. Nice start to 2009 for Facebook! [Update: Socialmediocrity also captured the page before it was changed.]
However, this small incident serves to highly a couple of more serious points.
First, it proves the Facebook machine isn’t prone to a few gremlins now and again. If an employee can run riot like this, who know what havoc they might wreak on the rest of the system.
Second, it merely continues to highly the fact that Facebook’s advertising targeting is legendary for being bad. As Guardian journalist Jemima Kiss recently Tweeted: “Consecutive ads on Facebook: ‘Essay writing – we’ll get you a 2:1″ and Bad credit? Get a credit card with 39.9% APR!’. Classy.”
The thing is, social media has rarely found its feet in online advertising. The extra data that exposing the social graph was supposed to provide has yet to translate into far more targeted advertising.
If Facebook knows I write for TechCrunch (it’s in my profile) and often post things on Facebook related to technology and business, then why do I get shown ads for Credit Rating Reports, as I did today?
On thing’s for sure – the economic downturn means sites like Facebook can ill afford to laugh off this sort of incident forever.