Facebook Faces New Privacy Challenge

Facebook is struggling with a new challenge – to tighten privacy practices, which puts its European advertisers on the front lines of its efforts to do so and causes frustrations among them.

According to the social media giant, its revenue growth has been considerably slowed by Europe’s new privacy law, the General Data Protection Regulation, and advertisers believe that effect would only be magnified by another privacy change at Facebook.

The company, which has found itself in the midst of a scandal over its handling of personal information, announced earlier this year that it would shut down ad tools called “Partner Categories” powered by outside data brokers.

The Wall Street Journal writes that those tools allow advertisers on Facebook to target certain groups of people based on third-party data such as their offline purchasing history.

The Silicon Valley giant has already eliminated the tools in several European countries and plans to do so globally by October 1, meaning that third-party data will no longer be available, only advertisers’ own data as well as that collected by Facebook.

The news of the latest privacy changes to be made by Facebook has not been welcomed by some larger advertisers, such as Heineken, which maintain that putting an end to a major way to target ads using information gathered by outside companies could have a significant effect on them.

“It’s going to have an impact for us because a good chunk of our spend uses non-Facebook targeting from outside firms,” said Ron Amram, global head of media for Heineken who expressed hope that the social media company will find a way to let the targeting continue.

Facebook acknowledged that the practice of targeting in Partner Categories is very common, but said it was shutting down the feature “to help improve people’s privacy on Facebook.”

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