It was one of Facebook most unpopular–and controversial–features. Now comes word that the social media giant is finally killing its “Sponsored Stories” ads on April 9.
You’ve seen them. The ads tell you your friends’ activities with a sponsored page, app or event. Their profile pic even appears alongside the ad when they “like”it.
From the beginning in 2011, the ads caused controversy, especially with privacy advocates. In fact, the year they launched Facebook was named in a class-action lawsuit that said the ads violated users rights by showing their “likes” and online actions without giving them a chance to opt-out or any compensation, reports The Huffington Post. Facebook itself made a lot of money off the Sponsored Stores–about $230 million between January 2011 and August 2012, according to Reuters’ examination of the court filing.
Facebook settled for $20 million and agreed to give users “more control over how their content is shared,” reports Reuters.
It seemed to be only a matter of time for Facebook to rethink the ads. Last June, Facebook said it was reorganizing its advertising options. Facebook told CNET, the ad platform changes would make Sponsored Stories obsolete. “As announced in June of last year, we’re bringing the best of Sponsored Stories — social context — to all ads. Since this update makes Sponsored Stories redundant, we will no longer offer them as a stand-alone ad unit for marketers,” said Facebook in a statement to CNET.
But even though Facebook says they are canning the Sponsored Stories, they will still be using the postings and personal information of its 1.2 billion users for advertising purposes. According to a recently blog post Facebook explains that “social context — stories about social actions your friends have taken, such as liking a page or checking in to a restaurant — is now eligible to appear next to all ads shown to friends on Facebook.”
It appears, however, that Google+ may pick up where Facebook is leaving off. CNET reports that in October, Google+ announced that user’s name and profile picture could show up in “Google products,” including display ads.
What do you think of Facebook using your online behavior to lure in advertisers?