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Thursday, May 30, 2013

Retailers Are Using Your Social Media Profile

If you have a social media presence (and who doesn't these days?), be assured that retailers and other businesses are using your photo, your profile, and all other information you post on those sites to sell you something.  Facebook, Google, Apple, and others all collect social media users' "faceprints" to enter these photos and information obtained from your social media sites into a facial recognition database.  What do they do with that information?  They use it to target personalized advertising, of course.  If you have ever wondered why you keep seeing ads on the Internet that seem particularly targeted to you and your preferences and recent activity, you can be certain that these ads have been generated because of information you provide online. 
 
Laws in Europe require that companies obtain permission before they collect a faceprint.  However, there is no such law in the United States.  So, until the law catches up with technology, you should expect that any information you provide online is open fodder for commercial use. 
 
For more on this topic, check out the ABA Law Journal article "Is your photo online? Are you on Facebook? If so, retailers can ID you and your shopping profile."  You can also check out a recent story about Google Glasses and its facial recognition capabilities.

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