The End of Facebook Sponsored Stories, or is it?

Facebook has always had to apologize or compensate for its overwhelming creep fest of updates and ideas. The company’s long standing history of “oopsy daisies” and “sorry” has caused a great many of their ideas to get canned, and Sponsored Stories have landed in the same fate. As of April 9, 2014 this type of Facebook advertisement will cease to exist.

With lawsuits and tons of negative press breathing down the necks of Facebook execs, the social network finally decided to ax their Sponsored Stories for good. A statement was released by the company via their blog on Jan. 9 stating:

Last year, we announced some changes to simplify Facebook ads, including eliminating different types of ads that had the same purpose and making our ads look more consistent. We also announced that marketers will no longer be able to purchase sponsored stories separately; instead, 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. 

This week, we gave notice to our ad partners that this change relating to sponsored stories will start in the first quarter of this year so they can update their tools and continue supporting the marketers they work with. 

So what does this mean for people on Facebook? As before, you are in control of who sees what you post on Facebook, whether it appears in your News Feed, next to ads, or elsewhere on Facebook. You can visit your Activity Log to see who can see stories about your social actions and change the audience or unlike or delete the content at any time. 

In addition, you can visit your Ads and Friends settings to limit when stories about your social actions are paired with ads shown to friends.

The ads would allow other Facebook friends to see when a user checked into an establishment and or liked or interacted with a page, app or event. Their profile picture would accompany an ad present on their friends’ newsfeed, which in essence impedes on the user’s privacy.

Facebook ultimately settled out of court for $20 million, but these sorts of advertising tactics are far from gone. Web marketing is a big business and Facebook reportedly made $230 million off of Sponsored Stories according to Reuters. The use of endorsements has been a hot topic and trend for several social media platforms, with Google+ announcing Google Endorsements in the latter part of 2013.

As would be expected the company was hit with a barrage of class action law suits from privacy advocates who were none too pleased with Facebook’s policies and procedures. Many users have complained that they are too aware of their friends’ actions and are tired of page likes being figuratively shoved down their throats for advertising purposes.

But users may still find that Facebook’s ads aren’t 100% legit. A new lawsuit has been recently filed with users complaining that they are the victim of fake likes. This is where Facebook tells a user’s friends that they like a page when they actually haven’t. This is a direct violation of their Terms of Service and makes many users wary of the social media platforms features for fear of being used for propaganda.

In the end users and marketers alike should pay attention to the miscommunication that these social signals may be sending, especially if a page is advocating things that they are against. As stated above the use of social media for profit is a large chunk of what Facebook is about to marketers. As trends change the emergence of new concepts and techniques to achieve audience engagement will continue to flourish. These trends will also open consumers’ minds to the way their privacy is sometimes violated unintentionally or otherwise . . . allegedly. In the case of Facebook, it seems unlikely that as more and more internet and social media users become sophisticated that the lawsuits against the social networking site will end.

Source: Social Media Today

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