Well, just last week we wrote about Facebook trying to push users’ mobile phone numbers and addresses to developers. But they decided to put that feature on hold. They’ve come up with another shocker now – Turning Likes into Ads which will appear as Promoted posts on their friends news feeds. Looks like the social network is all set to try and jack up those $1.86 billion ad revenue estimates from Emarketer.
The new feature – called ‘sponsored stories’ – means that if an advertiser has bought a ‘sponsored story’ ad and a user likes/posts about them. That post will reappear in their friends news feeds as a sponsored story. Essentially it will be Double Posted prominently. Of course there is a great risk that advertisers may end up sponsoring negative posts about themselves. Just as Vodafone displayed negative tweets on its makesmesmile campaign page in December. Facebook has tried to limit that situation by allowing them to restrict them to likes only. But I still don’t think it is foolproof.
Wired said the feature was very simlar to the now retired Facebook Beacon. At face value the feature may not seem like such a problem. But it doesn’t let you opt. Which means your post could be used an ad and you have no say in the matter. Even though your privacy settings will let you control how your posts/likes are published – sponsored stories nulifies that. Obviously several users are outraged. And if that wasn’t enough, reports are that the feature was sneakily launched on Wednesday morning without any real information being given to users. Something like this, I would think warrants at the very least an email to its users.
And the overall pattern continues, once again Facebook is forcing a feature on users without any intimation whatsoever. Whatever happened to the Social Media Feedback loop? One of the commenters in an Adage article described Facebook’s methods with the term ‘brute force’. And I guess have to agree. This is what I wrote about the ‘Facebook cycle’ in my last post about the company -
“here’s the cycle. Facebook Makes Changes – Angry Tweets, Rants, Blogs calling Facebook evil – Random internet meme about quitting Facebook – Everyone goes back to Facebook, heck , New Users keep pouring in as well”
The worrying factor is that the length of this cycle seems to getting shorter and shorter. People already seem to have forgotten about the Address/Mobile Numbers issue and there’s a new one already. And Facebook seems to be getting away with it. Because by and large most of its 550 million+ user base is unaware of these little tweaks and their implications. Personally, I wouldn’t mind endorsing a product a genuinely like and would recommend to others. But I shouldn’t have a say in the matter? And yes, I would want it to retain my Privacy settings.
I haven’t seen any such activity on my news feed yet. Have you? What do you think of this feature? And the manner in which Facebook is rolling it out? Let us know!