back to article Facebook's marketing goldmine may be crock of shite

Several times a year I receive emails congratulating me on my age from websites. It's very thoughtful of them to do this - but then it's not often they get the opportunity to market to a genuine silver surfer, like me. You see, I'm actually 112 years old. Or 103. Or 107. And several ages in-between. Yes, I'm one of those people …


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  1. Andrew

    Silver Surfers...

    I understand completely what you're saying about people entering the wrong information - but I think the point is being missed a little. So what if I entered my details as being born in 1900 - they can still work out what films I like, the books I like - and get a pretty good idea of my age depending on the average ages of the friends I have - unless a very high proportion of my friends/acquaintances are adopting the same '1900' attitude.

    The fact is that there are networks/communities on facebook that share common interests... let's not get ageist now.. age has little to do with it.

  2. Joe K

    You underestimate how dumb the masses are nowadays

    Especially the morons who use Facebook.

    Lil' Britney will happily enter her birthday so all her moron friends can see when to buy her the next Peter Andre album.

  3. Raheim Sherbedgia

    Data Validity

    I'm surprised it's taken this long to begin to look into data validity on the Internet. I know very few people who actually provide legitimate information. Mostly because it screws with people's research, but it's also funny when I get emails that are addressed to James Bond or Don Rumsfeld.

    Long before the Internet I provided false information too. When asked about my annual income I'd always check the highest amount, this ensured I got the coolest catalogs and mailings, it also cut down on the amount of (real) junk mail I received.

    It's going to be interesting to see what future studies show but I'd bet a large percentage of marketing data is bunk. I choose to believe this not only from my experience, but it would make me feel better knowing that some of the hair-brained schemes you see companies come up with were developed in good faith, based on bad information.

  4. peter Silver badge

    The year is the only thing I don't lie about.

    The year I was born is the one piece of personal info I give accurately, since I can understand how it helps their marketing (hence income) and it's not overly personal. Of course, I block all the ads they throw at me based on it, but hey - life sucks.

  5. Andy Crofts

    Long, long pre-internet..

    ..I once worked at a company called "Nicolet Instruments"

    Number of snail-mail letters we got addressed to "Dear Mr. Instruments"

    Frightening thing, of course was the data was entered by 'real people'. Sigh


  6. Alex

    Only 30 %

    If thirty percent of 150 million people are lying that still leaves 100 million people supplying good data + whatever they can gather by statistical analysis of your online activities.

    Sounds like a worthwhile market to go after to me!

    Given that the world economy has been booming for some time now (and hopefuly that will continue in spite of the moronic financial dealings by companies like Northern Rock) it would seem that the marketers know what they are doing... How else could companies like Apple justify such a high price for pointless shiny gadgets like the iPhone?

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    It continues to amaze me the way that the investors & wall street types are willing to invest in what ever the next best thing is that is currently being marketed.

    Whoever tells the truth? You wouldn't be able to get those free subscriptions to all of the computer magazines if you told nothing but the truth. Do you really think Google is worth all of the money they say that they are worth? Only if all of their adds actually generate any revenue. And personally I never look at them.

    If I want to buy something I do my own research & then purchase what I have identified as the best product from the best source.

    So, to facebook. They are only worth as much as the amount of revenue they can generate. Therefore, you have to believe that all of the marketing blitzs that this information will generate will actually result in increased sales.

    If you believe that I have some fantastic beach property for sale that is just east of Miami, Fl. USA.

  8. Daniel

    It all works out in the end

    The smart, winning companies will be those that figure out what good, usable information is in there, and how to get it out. The failures will continue to assume that there are 30 million centenarian internet users, and will go belly up. Natural selection at it's modern finest. :)

  9. Anthony

    Face.. Book.. ?

    Whatever happened to meeting people @ work, @ the pub etc?

    If social networking sites joined dating agencies they'd say "random group of people and bots and interested parties seeks members for online surveys, datamining, spamming, Miranda style advertising (anything you say may be used against you) and reducing you to even more of a statistic than you already are."

  10. Charlie

    I'm with peter

    Not being a middle aged woman, i couldn't care less who knows how old I am.

    Apparently this makes me a moron.

    (16/11/85 btw. I'll prepare for the apocaplyse.)

  11. Chris

    I agree with Charlie and Peter

    My age isnt important, the only thing that ever bugs me is the spam I get of

    apparently my wife is cheating on me... personally I cannot blame the poor lass, I obvously haven't been paying her any attention what so ever. I didn't even know I was married.

    Or the ones about getting my you know enlarged.

    The only things I can say against face book and other sites like that, is the amount of spam accounts they are.

    I'll be a moran because I'm proud of my birthday.


  12. Chris Croughton

    Re: Silver Surfers...

    They would have difficulty working out my age from that of my friends (especially from what LJ terms 'friends'). I'm almost 52, and the median age of my friends is around 32 (the mean is slightly lower). I do wonder why some of them bother, though, one in particular wants to ensure that you are "over 18" but asks for full date of birth to 'verify' that (why they think that under 18's lie less about their DoB than with a simple "I am over 18" checkbox I don't know).

  13. Colin Millar

    How about a licence for personal info

    Collect and store verified accurate PI via a secure third party collector. Those wanting to use the data wouldn't be able to actually access the raw data but simply interogate it. Individuals and/or companies etc licence their PI to the information holding agency for named purposes and/or a limited time.

    Of course - thats all a bit organised and logical for web 2.0

  14. Law


    I like the way people laugh at facebook users like they are hermits unable to leave their desk day or night, with comments suggesting they should get out more?!

    The reason alot of people use facebook is because they have ALOT of friends, and they go out regularly and enjoy a full social life. Facebook just helps share activities and life-events with loads of your friends - which done on an individual basis would take an age!!

    Granted - it's good for the likes of data-whores / hermits / stalkers / pimps (well you gotta get payed dawg) / etc too - but the majority of people on my network are just party people and family who are normally always hung over, uploading pics of weekend expeditions to random places, or still drunk......... so stop your condecending "facebook==freak" views, your as bad as the people who say that exact shit about ALL IT people (which if your reading el-reg you should be!).

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