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Facebook aims to market its user data bank to businesses

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Richard Wray
London Guardian
Monday, Feb 2, 2009

Facebook intends to capitalise on the wealth of information it has about its users by offering its 150 million-strong customer base to corporations as a market research tool. The appearance, later this year, of corporate polls targeted at certain parts of the Facebook audience because of the information they have posted on their pages, is likely to infuriate privacy campaigners.

Last week Mark Zuckerberg, the company’s 24-year-old founder and chief executive, showed the audience at the World Economic Forum in Davos how the social networking site could be used to poll specific groups of users.

He asked users in Palestine and then Israel about peace issues before relaying the results back to the audience within minutes. He also polled more than 100,000 American users of the website, asking them whether they thought President Obama’s fiscal stimulus package would be enough to resurrect the economy. Two out of five said it was not enough.

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Giving consumer brands the chance to use such a wide audience to get a quick response to targeted questions would do away with, or at least reduce their reliance on, expensive and time-consuming focus groups.

Speaking to well known tech blogger Robert Scoble at the event, Zuckerberg said 2009 will be Facebook’s “intense” year as it tries to justify some of the mammoth valuations that have been placed upon it by making some serious revenues through advertising. He was even seen sporting a tie, a sartorial extra which the Harvard drop-out has so far eschewed.

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This article was posted: Monday, February 2, 2009 at 1:35 pm

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