Pando

Facebook prepares to bolster its stalking abilities with new ad tools

By Nathaniel Mott , written on September 23, 2014

From The News Desk

Facebook wants to stalk you around the Web, and soon you won't be able to throw it off your digital trail even if you switch between your smartphone, tablet, and desktop computer.

The Wall Street Journal reports that the company is set to announce a new advertising platform called Atlas later this month, and its most important feature will be the ability to track Facebook users as they browse the Web, view advertisements, and purchase goods on any of their devices.

This advertising platform is meant to help Facebook compete with Google for ad revenues, one area where Google continues to dwarf the social network turned Internet juggernaut. (Google is said to have made some $14 billion in ad revenues last year; Facebook made around $2 billion.)

Facebook's attempts to steal consumers and advertising dollars from Google is nothing new. The company is also working to emulate YouTube on its own network by releasing more video-related features, as Variety has reported, even though its users might not appreciate the change.

But the ability to track consumers across devices could help advertisers even more than adding unwanted video tools to Facebook's website, because it fixes one of the technical problems that advertisers have bemoaned since the rise of mobile: the inability to use cookies to track people.

This new advertising network could change that, and it shows once again that Facebook isn't going to stop courting advertisers with increasing amounts of its users' personal information, though the Journal says that the aggregate data will be anonymized before it's passed around.

Being able to browse around the Web without having to worry about advertisers connecting the dots between viewing an advertisement on a smartphone and purchasing something on a laptop was just a fluke. Now this new ad network is going to be "correcting the error," so to speak.

Welcome to the modern era, where even a modicum of privacy is viewed as a technical failing that's going to be solved by some company or another to appease the almighty advertisers.

[illustration by Brad Jonas]