Facebook Upgrades News Feeds with Advertising Using Your Pictures

Tony Curtis and Jack Lemon in the Film Some Like It Hot

Facebook announced the new year will bring in a new advertising product; Sponsored Stories. The new product will associate your face as a stock photo for their advertisers. These ads will be posted within their News Feed pages. Facebook Sponsored Stories Ads may look a little weak in tone and design initially, but quickly will camouflage themselves into authentic looking ‘posts’ that are never posted by the users who posted the pictures.

The details of this was written up at The Standard, here.

Facebook will begin adding photos of its users to third-party adverts appearing in users’ news feeds come early next year, and there’s no way out of being featured alongside a tin of baked beans or a pair of knickers on the social network.

The Mark Zuckerberg-run company will set its “Sponsored Stories” feature as default for its 800 million-strong stalkerbase, and there won’t be an option for any individual wanting to opt out of being shown on such ads.

“Starting early next year, we will gradually begin showing Sponsored Stories in News Feed. Our goal is to do this thoughtfully and slowly,” a Facebook spokeswoman told The Register.

Exactly how this will blaze the trail of advertising in the future will be interesting. While almost every End User License Agreement (EULA), from Apple to Zazzle, explains in their fine print that they have the right to use some aspect or even all of your data, they never leverage it in their advertising. Facebook is performing another ‘first’ in social media advertising.   It is in their right, since Facebook has stated in general terms within its EULA that everyone agrees to when signing up – that it owns your content and they can use it any way they want.  Still, there is an unspoken trust between the members and the providers to not use your information for their advertising. If Facebook’s lawyers are good enough, they will fight the issue with the EULA verbiage with some argument like “Members have been warned in the fine print EULA and we have a right to use their posted content data any way we want.”

As of late, a judicial denial was handed to Facebook when Facebook lawyers asked to have the case thrown out. Yay courts!  It is a strange initial argument on the part of the lawyers to try and keep this Sponsored Stories product alive by requesting the courts ‘just drop it’.  The lawyers probably are getting $100,000’s in retainer and seemingly lack the ability to discuss the issue based around the terms of the EULA argument – which seems so much more relevant.

Down the road, Facebook will probably be seen as the leader to a small heard of desperate advertising sheep; that they egregiously leverage personal content without any formal notice or additional consent than the EULA. While Facebook is blazing the trail using their EULA fine print, it represents a sort of desperation on the part of the social media company.  Designing products that cross these lines with their supposed 800 million active members may represent Facebook is closer to decline than negative analysts have claimed here  and here .  It is unclear how to build corporate profit when catering to the advertisers and continuing to alienate the member privacy. From an outsider it looks like you are pissing off the members who drive the site success.  If their previous revenue flow had been working for them for profitability, they may not have designed aggressive ‘products’ like Sponsored Stories.

The best advice is to turn off photo tagging. Here is a quick article about it.

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