Facebook is criticized for creating targeted ads directed towards pregnant women, using information such as the unborn baby’s gender and the mothers’ due dates. In a feature that was introduced in the social networking site just last year, users can add unborn babies in their profiles as members of their families.
Netmums.com founder, Siobhan Freegard, said that Facebook has told mothers that it will not use their pregnancy data for marketing purposes, but the exact opposite has been happening.
She adds that a lot of women are willing to share personal information to marketing businesses with consent, and usually these pregnant mothers get rewards in return, such as discount vouchers or free products.
The fact that Facebook has used data of pregnant moms without their permission is “disturbing,” according to Freegard. A woman may announce through status updates that she is pregnant, and this data is then collected by the social networking site and made available to advertisers looking for selected groups of pregnant mothers. The advertisers will then send out maternity-related advertising to these groups, such as baby clothing.
Furthermore, Facebook emphasized that it doesn\’t sell user personal data to advertisers, but rather only groups of Facebook members that share interests.
This kind of data, along with other similar data on Facebook, is categorized under “life events.” Pregnancy related ads have been seen for about a year now on the social networking site, but other forms of life events related advertising have been appearing for longer. As an example, announcing an engagement on Facebook leads to users seeing advertisements related to wedding photographers.