Sponsored Stories: Facebook's effort to use your "likes" and more in ads

Sponsored Stories: Facebook's effort to use your "likes" and more in ads

Summary: If you've ever dreamed of having your face plastered on a billboard advertisement or showcased in a magazine ad, Facebook is about to make your dreams come true. If you've never really had that dream, well, that's too bad because Facebook is still going to sell pieces of your profile to advertisers.

SHARE:
8

If you've ever dreamed of having your face plastered on a billboard advertisement or showcased in a magazine ad, Facebook is about to make your dreams come true. If you've never really had that dream, well, that's too bad because Facebook is still going to sell pieces of your profile to advertisers.

The effort is called "Sponsored Stories" and it's built around the idea that you, as a Facebook user, are already sharing the things you "like" and "checking in" at the places you visit. For Facebook and advertisers, it's a unique way to personalize the ad by featuring one of your Facebook friends and to make a few ad dollars off of it, too.

This morning, when I saw the Facebook video explaining Sponsored Stories, I immediately could see red flags flying all over the place in my mind. Who gets to see these ads? How much is Facebook charging these advertisers to use my name and image on one of those ads? Shouldn't I get a cut of that revenue, too? After all, without me, there is no ad. And what about my privacy? Is that being compromised?

In this video, Facebook is quick to put spins on this:

First, it explains that when we go out to buy products - everything from running shoes to cameras - we turn to our friends for recommendations because we know them and we trust them. (Well, presumably.) Therefore, it only makes sense to scour the feeds scrolling through Facebook - feeds you might otherwise miss in the flood of information swirling around - and highlight in the form of an ad. Makes sense, right?

Second, a sponsored story never goes to someone who's not one of your friends. Therefore, as the logic goes, that friend has already seen that you like Sweet Potato Fries at The Counter in Palo Alto and that three of your friends were with you there.Thinking about it that way, Facebook and the advertiser are only repeating what you've already said or done. There's nothing wrong with that, right?

Finally, this isn't just about promoting brands through your own recommendations. It's also about promoting public interest efforts that you're involved with - maybe a 10k to raise awareness of the fight against breast cancer.

It's hard to argue that Facebook is pimping its users out for advertisements when we're the ones who put all of this information about ourselves out there. Likewise, it's hard to bash them for sharing personal information about us to people we don't know - after all, we've accepted the people who will see this information into our Facebook world. And finally, it's tough to bash the company for finding ways to make a buck off of a service that's provided to us at no charge.

Still, I can't help feeling a bit queasy about this. How about you? What do you think?

Topic: Social Enterprise

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Talkback

8 comments
Log in or register to join the discussion
  • Creepy!

    Sam, it's just creepy to stumble across an ad with a friend recommending someone else's product. I had this happen recently at Dell:

    http://smoothspan.wordpress.com/2011/01/06/dell-knows-my-facebook-friends/

    One of my commenters explained how the feat was accomplished, and it satisifies Facebook's rule that you only appear to your friends.

    It didn't make it any less creepy.

    Cheers,

    BW
    BobWarfield
  • RE: Sponsored Stories: Facebook's effort to use your

    Somebody, for the sake of mankind - fire the idiot who is coming up with these ideas.

    If I want to promote something and bring it to the top of my feed - that should be my own business, not the business of advertisers.

    And yeah, if they want to use my name and my info for any type of promotion - I definitely want a cut of any profit. I really don't care if it's just to my friends or not. Advertising is advertising.

    "It?s hard to argue that Facebook is pimping its users out for advertisements when we?re the ones who put all of this information about ourselves out there. "

    REALLY????????

    That's bull and you know it. This is the same tricks they've been trying for years. You're in an ad without giving them permission to put you in an ad, plain and simple. I don't care how they slice it, dice it, or limit it. It's the same trick.

    "And finally, it?s tough to bash the company for finding ways to make a buck off of a service that?s provided to us at no charge."

    If they want to charge me for the service, they should charge me directly, not play around with stupid advertising tricks. I pay monthly for WoW, it's not a big stretch to say I might be willing to pay a minimal monthly fee for Facebook.
    CobraA1
  • RE: Sponsored Stories: Facebook's effort to use your

    I totally agree. I would much rather pay something for my Facebook, and even my kids' Facebook to stop this endless stealing of my information and trying to justify it. That and stop the endless changing the site for changing's sake. How are people who aren't very computer savy supposed to use it when it changes soon as they finally 'get' it.
    miranda97415@...
  • Egotistical types will go along with it.

    Best of luck to them - it won't do their reputation or career any good and it won't make me consider buying anything.
    peter_erskine@...
  • RE: Sponsored Stories: Facebook's effort to use your

    I seem to remember a thing about them using your pictures and stuff in ads before that you could opt out of... Is there a way to opt out of this now?

    And you know what, It's easy to bash them. Here's how:

    When I signed up for facebook in 2004 (wow it's already been 7 years) the terms of services were significantly different. They change your privacy settings and what they share on a regular basis without prior notification. In order for them to be beyond criticism for trying to make a buck, they need to send you an email several weeks in advance, and give you the opportunity to fully delete your information from their site OR alternatively, make these new features "opt-in" rather than forcing them on people.
    snoop0x7b
  • RE: Sponsored Stories: Facebook's effort to use your

    Wait until the middle school children start getting ads pushed to them for Medical Marijuana Clinics. Nothing like a furious parental mob of "friends of friends of friends" to raise a stink.
    -=M=-
  • RE: Sponsored Stories: Facebook's effort to use your

    "And finally, it?s tough to bash the company for finding ways to make a buck off of a service that?s provided to us at no charge."

    There is difference between getting a buck when you PROVIDE a service, and SHAPING the whole service as a buck-machine, and selling it as a fun thing to connect with your friends.

    Whats next?
    iExist
  • RE: Sponsored Stories: Facebook's effort to use your

    They change your privacy settings and what they share on a regular basis without prior notification. In order for them to be beyond criticism for trying to make a buck, they need to send you an email several weeks in advance.<a href="http://sazkove-kancelaree.cz/expekt">expekt</a>
    marco5811