Nomura Equities Research initiated coverage of Facebook with a buy rating on Thursday, setting a target price of $40.
[…] But Facebook’s ace in the hole is what Nowak and his colleagues are betting on: The company’s deep treasure trove of user data […]
How exactly will they use this data in a way they haven’t before? Google at least branches out, and offers an ad network for those running their own websites. Will Facebook do the same? Either Nomura Equities Research can see the future or they’re about to lose some credibility.
Google has been gunning to compete with Facebook on the social-front, and their most recent attempt, Google+, appears to be their best effort so far. With over 40 million users to date, Google+ has been able to amass a large following in a short amount of time. Their recent launch of Google+ Pages—their version of Facebook for Business—is just another addition to their bag of social tricks.
Problem is, Facebook is approaching 1 billion users, 25-times that of Google+. To continue to grow their users, Google has taken a page from Facebook and has reached out to college students. From BGR:
As a new semester got underway at Ben Gurion University and Tel Aviv University in Israel, students were greeted by an unexpected surprise: a series of booths that served as recruiting stations for Google+. The manned booths offered passers-by a free gift bag packed with goodies if they were willing to sign up for the new social network on the spot, Ynet recently reported. Google’s hired hands helped users create their profiles on the spot, even offering to take playful profile pictures for the university students, which were also printed on stickers and given away for free.
This approach seems very similar to how Google Wallet has been marketed recently, and screams of desperation. As a Google+ user myself, I can think of many different aspects of the service that could convince new users to join, but giving out gift bags is not one of them. I wonder how many fake profiles are being created on campus just so the students can get the free goodies.
According to an article on The Register, a Mississippi woman filed a lawsuit on Wednesday alleging Facebook of breach of contract, unjust enrichment, trespassing and invasion of privacy. She alleges that by Facebook tracking her internet browsing history after she logs out of their service, they are violating federal wiretap statutes. From the complaint:
“Leading up to September 23, 2011, Facebook tracked, collected, and stored its users’ wire or electronic communications, including but not limited to portions of their internet browsing history even when the users were not logged-in to Facebook,” the 17-page complaint stated. “Plaintiff did not give consent or otherwise authorize Facebook to intercept, track, collect, and store her wire or electronic communications, including but not limited to her internet browsing history when not logged-in to Facebook.”
We talked about Facebook’s questionable user tracking process before as well as the government and privacy groups requesting the FTC to investigate these claims. This latest addition to the Facebook privacy scandal now brings civil legal action which could grow to class-action status.
Facebook’s privacy woes are anything but over. On Wednesday, nine privacy groups requested the FTC to investigate Facebook’s user tracking practices. From BGR:
The American Civil Liberties Union, the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) and seven other privacy groups have contacted the U.S. Federal Trade Commission asking it to investigate Facebook for “secretly tracking users after they logged off of Facebook’s webpage.”
Additional information was found via AP.
It appears Facebook’s privacy concerns aren’t over as two U.S. lawmakers are asking the FTC to investigate them for their tracking practices. Although Facebook has updated their logout logic to remove the tracking cookie, it appears the issue still caught the government’s attention. From the ComputerWorld article:
Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Rep. Joe Barton (R-Tex.) wrote an open letter Wednesday urging FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz to look into Facebook’s tracking of its users even after they log out of the site.
“As Co-Chairs of the Congressional Bi-Partisan Privacy Caucus, we believe that tracking user behavior without their consent or knowledge raises serious privacy concerns,” wrote Markey and Barton. “When users log out of Facebook, they are under the expectation that Facebook is no longer monitoring their activities. We believe this impression should be the reality.”
Considering that cookies have been used for years to track users’ browsing habits, I wonder why this specific case has caught the government’s attention.