The ratings company Nielsen has been keeping tabs on what you say about TV while using Twitter for a while. Now, though, it plans to mine what you have to say on Facebook, too.

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Keeping track of Twitter was easy, of course, because most accounts are entirely public. Facebook is a lot more tricky though, as third parties can’t usually read what you share with your nearest and dearest unless you grant them permissions.

Now, though, Facebook is going to allow Nielsen to track conversations you have with Facebook friends even if they’re not marked public. The company won’t have access to direct messages, but it will see things like status updates or messages posted to someone’s feed, as you get terribly excited about America’s Next Top Model or whatever it is you watch in your spare time, say. The good news is that the data will only be used in aggregate, so the wider world will never learn about your love of old Friends boxsets even if your best friends do.

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The addition of Facebook data to its arsenal will see Nielsen rename its Twitter TV Ratings to “Social Content Ratings” and it also plans to add Instagram mining over time, too. And what will the data be used for? Shaping programming and, perhaps most importantly, advertising. Yay.

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Image by Steve Harwood