Facebook Becoming too Intrusive? Maybe you're Worse

Services for Real Estate Pros with Dynamic Page Solutions

BinocularsHave you noticed how privacy issues relating to the internet are increasingly at the forefront of news releases and blog discussions lately?

Most recently, Facebook’s launch of Instant Personalization is being challenged as too intrusive since this new feature automatically opts you into Partners, Pandora, Yelp, and Docs.com without notice.

Google has shown equal indifference to its users privacy when they opted in their users to Buzz, and behavioral targeting without consent. As Realtors, do we do any better in making public disclosures and respecting our website visitor’s privacy?

Before you answer that, how about a little reality check?

Do you use a real estate website client management system that monitors your visitors viewing habits while on your site? Do you disclose to them in big clear print at the point that they opt in that you will be watching what homes they are looking at? Or is your disclosure buried deep inside the small print of your Terms and Conditions page?

What I find interesting is that I have several Realtor friends with a strong political opinion that our government acts like our big brother and is too often trying to justify snooping into our private affairs. Yet they see no problem in having a website with a client management product that monitors their visitors every action “so they can help them better”. They don’t bother with an obvious disclosure so the visitor can make an informed decision because they fear that too many people may decide not to opt in. Let's face it, if you followed someone around in real life without having a relationship with them, you'd probably get arrested for stalking.

So, what do you think? Do you really believe that a new visitor that doesn’t know you yet will have enough trust to have some unknown person watching their every move while on your site? Or maybe you think it is OK not to disclose that little secret.

Posted by

Anita Koppens

Comments (42)

Pam Turner, REALTOR®, e-PRO®, SFR
Century 21 Belk Realtors Dalton GA - Dalton, GA

I enjoy Facebook, but I do think they're getting too intrusive.

May 03, 2010 01:47 PM
Robin Dampier REALTOR®
Coldwell Banker King - Hendersonville, NC
Hendersonville & Western NC Real Estate Source

I think the Internet in general is there to collect and share information.  The individual user has the option to participate or not.

As far as collecting information on users to our Website, that info and their privacy is respected.  We wait to be contacted before emailing folks.

We sure don't care for all the Spam that hits our mailboxes and wouldn't want to inflict the same on others.  I put it in the same category as I feel about the robo phone calls which I received 3 of today!  Very annoying and I think it's a darn shame for the folks who rush to get the phone interrupting whatever they were doing -- and it's a robo call!

Sue of Robin and Sue

May 03, 2010 02:08 PM
Christine Donovan
Donovan Blatt Realty - Costa Mesa, CA
Broker/Attorney 714-319-9751 DRE01267479 - Costa M

I'm beginning to wonder what the meaning of privacy really is in this new age of social networking.

May 03, 2010 03:55 PM
Maureen Bray Portland OR Home Stager ~ Room Solutions Staging
Room Solutions Staging, Portland OR - Portland, OR
"Staging Consultations that Sell Portland Homes"

I just checked out the website #1 referenced -- www.spokeo.com -- and found myself listed.  Not much of the information was correct however, which made me feel a little better!!  Quite a bit of it is apparently based on assumptions....someone follows your shopping habits online, apparently.  Just another reminder that Big Brother is watching!

May 03, 2010 05:45 PM
Randy Dodd
Rosanna's Realty - Abilene, TX

While Facebook maybe intrusive, no one has to use it. For people like you and I it's a tool we use to sell ourselves. I know people not using it and still have high sales. It's a tool if you feel you need it to fix your sales pick it up if not pick up the took that works for you.


May 03, 2010 05:58 PM
Stephen P. Panczak, MBA
Keller Williams Coastal Partners - Palm Beach, FL
Real Estate Agent, (561) 254-8098

Great Post and "Food for Thought" - I've alwyas thought Facebook was just too intrusive.

May 03, 2010 10:24 PM
"The Lovely Wife" (Broker Bryantnulls Wife) The One And Only TLW.
President-Tutas Towne Realty, Inc. - Kissimmee, FL


As someone who recently purchased a home, I stayed away from Realtor websites over that. What I'm doing is simply no ones business.

This lack of privacy has always been a hot button with me. The Face has taken liberities but, I do understand their intent is give Google a run for its money. I could on and on, but alas, this is your pretty Blog :)


May 04, 2010 12:21 AM
Tim Maitski
Atlanta Communities Real Estate Brokerage - Atlanta, GA
Truth, Excellence and a Good Deal

My website can track what properties users look at.  I never liked the thought of following users so I never do. I really don't have the time to stalk users.  It also might lead to some awkward moment that develops when a client sits there and wonders how I knew some detail.   It's kind of creepy to me.  Have you ever had a client bring up some personal detail about you and you stop for a second and try to figure out how they would know such a thing.  Then you remember that you wrote about it somewhere in the past.   I wouldn't want a client to ever get that feeling.

 For those who don't see a problem with it, I challenge them to put something like this on their website. "When you become a registered user, just know that I can see every search you do and every home that you look at.  I can monitor every detail of how you use my site.  This is all done in order to serve you better."  If your're not comfortable with a statement like that, then that's saying something.

May 04, 2010 12:31 AM
Dynamic Page Solutions
Dynamic Page Solutions - Mesa, AZ

Charles - Thank you for the in-depth comment. I'm not a fan of cookies or session ID's mainly because tracking like this can adversly effect SEO. Reading terms and conditions can be maddening, but in the case of tracking customers motions on a real estate website the disclaimer should be loud and clear.

Monique - I think the Facebook controversy is more annoying than scary. That other website Sheryl mentioned is the scary one.

Andi - You are certainly right about users not remaining loyal. I think of Blockbuster and what's happened to them since Netflicks and movie rental kiosks have popped up everywhere, better, easier and cheaper. Treat your customers good whether you're on the top or at the bottom of the heap. I'm not against Facebook or any other free online resource turning a profit, just don't twist the arm of the user to do it.

Sue - I believe most people appreciate retaining their privacy until ready to initiate a transaction. Robo calls....grrrr.

May 04, 2010 04:51 AM
Dynamic Page Solutions
Dynamic Page Solutions - Mesa, AZ

Christine - I guess you just have to draw your own boundaries as far as what you share, where you share it and with whom.

Maureen - This big brother is more interested in how we spend our money, not where were hiding it. I just checked spokeo.com and I'm not listed yet, guess I don't do enough online shopping.

Randy - You're absolutley right. Don't like what's on the T.V. station, turn the channel.

Stephen - I have to admit, I was a late comer to Facebook simply because I did not want to connect with old high school friends, etc. But since adopting it, I just have to make decisions about who I "freind" along the way.

May 04, 2010 04:58 AM
Dynamic Page Solutions
Dynamic Page Solutions - Mesa, AZ

TLW - Thanks for bringing it back to topic! Being in the business of selling technology to Realtors, I have signed up on their websites from other providers from time to time at the client's request to see how it functions. Not impressed, and I used a bogus name and email to do it because opting out is not as easy as it should be. I signed up at a client's listing book account the other day, I had to go through several made up email accounts before I could find a unique one that others had not "made up." It's very telling of how people don't want to be tracked, emailed or harrassed before their ready to make a purchase.

Tim - LOL, I love it!

May 04, 2010 05:05 AM
Damon Gettier
Damon Gettier & Associates, REALTORS- Roanoke Va Short Sale Expert - Roanoke, VA
Broker/Owner ABRM, GRI, CDPE

I pay for a website to produce income.  The best way for me to get my website to produce income is to gather contact information.  I make no apologies.  I do not offer a website for the viewing pleasure of the consumer.

May 04, 2010 07:43 AM
Dynamic Page Solutions
Dynamic Page Solutions - Mesa, AZ

Damon - Why not? In my opinion, offering information free of commitment is the wave of the future in marketing. In my experience, people may visit a site multiple times before making contact, when they do, their serious about moving forward but not until.

May 04, 2010 09:16 AM
Chris Alston
Chris Alston (Keller Williams Realty, Silicon Valley, California) - Campbell, CA
Silicon Valley, California

I think the future of your online experience is that advertisers will find you instead of you chancing upon them.  In a way, I am okay with that.  That way I only see what may pertain to me, instead of useless garbage. 

May 04, 2010 10:04 AM
Dynamic Page Solutions
Dynamic Page Solutions - Mesa, AZ

Chris - That's an interesting take, although I'm not sure that I would want advertisers contacting me based upon my search pattern. In some instances that might be a bit embarrassing.

May 04, 2010 10:07 AM
Tim Tallmadge

Hi Anita ...good to see a face with your name. Touched a nerve I see with this topic.

Simply put... it is "Electronic Stalking". And I agree  abpout in some cases it could be embarassing for people to know I was on Victoria's Secret Website Buying my girlfriend a size 34 DD ...well you know... They may not know I have a girlfirend. Ha!

Keep Up the good work you do. Jim E. called from Pro Software Services today.. and he wants my customer data from you. Ha! Go ahead and give it to him if you like. Not sure my customers are okay with it though. Hmmm... I see how this could be a problem, but until its worked out.. go ahead and handshake him if you can. Thanks again!

Tim Tallmadge

May 04, 2010 11:22 AM
Dynamic Page Solutions
Dynamic Page Solutions - Mesa, AZ

Heeey Tim!

It seems to be a nerve pinched round the world. Yes, there could be some akward moments if our searches came back to haunt us via advertisments. I spoke with Jim earlier, we're going to make sure our technologies play nice together, he doesn't sell your data does he? Questions to ask I suppose.

May 04, 2010 11:58 AM
Nelson Carrillo
eXp Realty of California - Phone: (619) 940-6560 - Bonita, CA
South San Diego, CA Homes For Sale

Watch what you post and how much personal information and media you post.  You never know who is looking at it. 

May 05, 2010 06:33 AM
John Marion
RE/MAX Town & Country - Canton, GA

Hi Anita. Thanks for the intersting post and the good discussion. I am using facebook a lot these days and I'm always thoughtful about what I post because I realize it is public all the world to see.

May 05, 2010 09:42 AM
Dynamic Page Solutions
Dynamic Page Solutions - Mesa, AZ

Nelson - That's always good advice.

John - You can always change your preferences to keep personal and public separate. I know it's especially hard for real estate agents to do that since so much of your work requires reaching out to the public.

May 06, 2010 04:05 AM