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Facebook plans targeted advertisements

Facebook announced Tuesday that it plans to use target advertising based on user actions. Companies will now be able to build profile pages similar to those of typical users, though company pages won’t be able to access individuals’ profiles like friends do even if “users formally declare themselves ‘fans’ of a company,? according to the Star Tribune. Businesses will be able to tailor their ads to activities of users: if a friend buys a book, a business can use the friend’s photo to get others to take similar action. Profile information may also be used for targeted ads, allowing businesses to “fine-tune their audiences.?

A special coding Facebook calls “Beacon? can be embedded to allow outside sites to create alerts for other Facebook friends—if someone lists something on eBay, then a message can be sent to their friends to allow them to look at the listing.

This is another step in lowering the guard on user privacy, though Facebook won’t provide advertisers with identifying information. Criticism arose with the implementation of the news feed feature months ago, which allowed updates on friends’ actions. Some users used Facebook’s own groups feature to show how displeased they were with the “stalkerish? new add-on. Because of the response, Facebook allowed users to turn off that feature. The targeted ads plan allows users can control what they share, but they can’t choose to opt out of ads.

The other top social networking site, MySpace, currently lets businesses make their own profile pages and announced that “it would expand its targeting program to include more categories and more advertisers? on Monday.