Facebook’s march towards ultimate advertising saturation continues.
The latest development is ‘Sponsored Stories’, whereby Facebook uses your status updates, application use or Facebook Places check-ins as the raw material for advertising spam, directed at your friends.
Here’s how it works: if you hit the ‘like’ button, or use the Facebook check-in function, or use any particular Facebook application, that activity is now fodder for Facebook’s advertisers.
If you ‘like’ a page that a Facebook advertiser is pushing (even one outside of Facebook), that action now has a good chance of ending up in a dedicated column on the right-hand side of your friend’s Facebook page. If you ‘like’ something in Facebook, it will appear in your feed as usual, but may also be picked up and placed, like an ad, elsewhere on your friend’s interfaces. Sounds horrible, right?
If you’re interested in Facebook’s spin, here’s a touchy-feely video, telling you how ‘exciting’ it’s all going to be: tinyurl.com/63kwql4
In typical Facebook fashion of course, you can’t control it. Facebook (and its advertisers) handle the creation of this content automatically. So if you ‘like’ something today, you should be prepared to have it re-presented, perhaps wildly out of context, at a later date.
And also in keeping with Facebook method, you can’t turn it off. There is no ‘opt-out’ function.
Facebook is rolling out the new development as we speak. Like it or not, there’s a good chance that that next Facebook log-in will see you acting as an unpaid shill for Facebook’s advertisers.
But such is Facebook’s modus operandi. Keep rolling out more and more intrusive and unwelcome features, but do it so slowly that, other than a little grumbling, users just accept the latest change with a sigh, and forget about it until the next time their accounts, content and good names are shoe-horned into Facebook’s next business model.
‘Sponsored Stories’, however, seems so galling (not to mention the insidious implications of unauthorised, uncontrolled automatic recommendations done in YOUR name) that one wonders just what the fallout from this will be.