Big Brother is watching online - and wants to sell you magazines!


With Facebook taking its first steps toward becoming an online marketplace, the issue of targeted marketing is rearing its ugly head once again. As users are spending more and more time wandering around the internet, they are generating an ever-growing mass of personal information. Despite numerous attempts to create trustworthy tools for wiping away one's online footprints, the Web continues to have a long -- and sometimes embarrassing -- memory.

One recent brouhaha has arisen from attempts to combine online and offline consumer profiles. Like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, many consumers try to separate their internet wanderings from their "real" lives. From a personal perspective, this can make it easier for users to hide potentially embarrassing predilections from their friends and loved ones. From a marketing perspective, however, it can result in an incomplete and inefficient customer profile.