Study: Facebook outing gay users to advertisers

Here’s a scary thought for anyone who values their privacy.

A study by Microsoft and Germany’s Max Planck Institute shows that Facebook has been letting advertisers know the sexual orientation of users’ profiles — even if those users don’t have their orientation disclosed on their profiles.

Facebook does this so that ads may be targeted towards gay users. Props to The Globe and Mail’s The Hot Button blog for finding this:

And they weren’t just gay bar ads. Some were things like nursing schools.

“The danger with such ads, unlike the gay bar ad where the target demographic is blatantly obvious, is that the user reading the ad text would have no idea that by clicking it he would reveal to the advertiser both his sexual-preference…” wrote the researchers.

I guess Facebook really does care about users’ privacy — unless the bottom line is affected. It seems like despite Facebook’s ongoing bluster about how you can control your privacy to any extent you like with their service, we keep finding out that it’s really Facebook who’s calling theshots.