Today, online communities provide an effective means to disseminate a message to not only a very large group of people, but also a targeted demographic. Popular communities such as Facebook, MySpace, and YouTube are the dominant groups boasting millions of active registered users each (14 million was the most recent count on Facebook). While organizations have realized the importance of advertising to these communities, there has been a lot of discussion on privacy—more notably with companies looking up potential new employees before hiring them.
An article by Wired News (January, 2007) talks about the Central Intelligence Agency having a Facebook page in the hopes of finding some new college-aged applicants.
Since Facebook has recently opened its doors to anyone with a computer (opposed to its original purpose of only allowing college students with a valid, and verified, college e-mail address) it has also opened the doors to hundreds of thousands of registrants protesting the “New” Facebook (which also includes RSS feeds that announce different activity on your page). Included in this protest were groups that called for a ban on Facebook advertisers.
Are online community users susceptible to these organizations and ads? Do the organizations lose credibility? Does it shed a new light to the targeted demographics? Or does it just add to the clutter as regular users go about their personal business on these sites?