One of the most longstanding complaints about Facebook’s advertising opportunities is that one couldn’t find existing customers, or visitors to their web site, to retarget them while they’re on the mammoth social networking site. Besides participating in ad exchanges, Facebook appears to be attempting to address this concern in another way. According to a report in Inside Facebook, the company is testing opportunities for targeting Facebook users by email, user ID and phone number.
According to the report, some users of Facebook’s Power Editor temporarily saw a new “Custom Audiences” tab next to the “Page Posts” tab. When users clicked through, they saw the ability to create an audience based upon emails, User IDs or Phone numbers. The interface showed the option for lists to be uploaded either in CSV or TXT format.
According to the screenshot obtained by Inside Facebook, the interface tells advertisers that any personally identifying information would be hashed before being uploaded to Facebook.
Despite this attempt to protect user information, if the feature is rolled out officially, it’s likely to attract significant scrutiny from privacy activists and consumer advocates.