Always the troublemaker, social networking giant Facebook is making waves this week with its announcement that starting in 2012, it's “sponsored stories” ads will begin to show up in your newsfeed.
When you simply “like” the page of a company, product or brand, Facebook can use your name to advertise that product to your friends and your network. Also, if you've talked about said company in a status update, that particular post of yours might be pushed as a “sponsored story”. Other ways of getting featured in a sponsored story for a company is sharing their URL, "checking-in" to their business, playing their game or using their Facebook app, or simply liking a single post on their company Facebook page.
We've all racked up dozens (if not hundreds or thousands) of “liked” pages and stories on Facebook throughout the years, but how comfortable are we with Zuckerberg using us to advertise to each other?
It was nearly a year ago that sponsored stories were first announced, but they've remained solely in the “sidebar” area of Facebook, away from our main content feed. When the new twitter-esque “Ticker” sidebar feature was introduced, we saw our advertising and social feed mix on Facebook for the first time in years. However, in just a few short weeks, we'll see our social content and advertising mix even more, as sponsored stories begin to creep their way into our main news feed, and they won't always be easy to pick out. (CNET has shared a great screenshot of what the future of “sponsored stories” looks like.)
You may not care if Facebook is using your name or posts however they'd like to,but personally, I find it a bit unnerving. It doesn't feel quite right when I see an ad that a friend has unknowingly “promoted”. Inside Facebook claims that users are 46% more likely to click on a “sponsored story” than a regular ad, so I know they're making money off of me.
It wasn't so bad when sponsored stories remained in the sidebar, because my eyes didn't often scan there, and when they did, I was aware of the fact that I was being advertised to. With sponsored stories popping up in my main newsfeed, I know I won't be alone in wondering which stories are new stories from my friends, or which are being regurgitated and pushed by Facebook.
Do you feel as though you've given consent to use your name in a Facebook ad when you've simply “liked” something? Or, do you feel, like I do, that Facebook has gone a bit too far with this new scheme?
Or...perhaps you think it's a necessary and clever idea for Facebook to make it's billions?
Either way, if you're a Facebook user, you'd better get used to it.
Amanda Foley is a technology & social media blogger, found on twitter @littlecoast.
Image via marcopako's Flickr.