Facebook forced to change Sponsored Stories

Fri 22 June 2012 14:00, Tamara Yadvichuk

Facebook forced to change Sponsored Stories

A couple weeks ago I wrote about Facebook Sponsored Stories – ads which can appear in the news feed of Facebook users and their friends. Well, it turned out that Facebook had to change their advertising service to settle a lawsuit.

Sponsored stories on Facebook can be a strong marketing tool as they appear as an endorsement from a friend who is in some way connected to the advertised brand. For example, if I liked the Facebook page of Starbucks, my friends may see Sponsored Stories from this page in their newsfeed with my name and profile picture just like in any other post.

There may be problems, however. The thing is that to determine whose friends may see Sponsored Stories Facebook first needs to find users interested in the featured product – those who like its Facebook page, mention it in their posts and comments, etc. And while some of them are genuine supporters of the brand, others could have used it to make a joke such as this one, – and in fact don’t want to be seen as endorsers of the product.

A lawsuit filed against Facebook by five users claimed that such practice of turning Facebook members into involuntary endorsers is illegal. Last month the case was settled, and its recently revealed details showed that Facebook agreed to give users more control over the Sponsored Stories promoted using their name.

Besides that, the social network agreed to donate $10 million for the charitable cause of educating people on safe usage of social media and to pay the same amount for the fees of plaintiffs’ attorneys’.

So, dear facebookers, if you like joking around on Facebook, beware of the dangers of mentioning ‘sensitive products’ – one day you might find yourself recommending your friends to use something you don’t entirely appreciate!

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