Facebook adverts now in news feeds
Published 11/01/2012 | 12:26
FACEBOOK adverts, known as ‘sponsored stories’, have started appearing in users' news feeds, as the service ramps up its commercial activity.
Users will now see these adverts, which appear in the form of ‘stories’ or posts about a product, in their news feeds labelled as ‘featured’.
Marketers can only pay for these adverts to appear in a user’s feed if the user has already ‘liked’ the page. And the advertiser does not have the option to add its own additional message once the post is live.
Facebook is rolling the initiative out around the world and it has already started in the UK.
‘Sponsored stories’ have annoyed certain users and Facebook is currently facing a legal challenge by a group of members who are unhappy about their profiles being used in adverts. Currently if a Facebook user clicks the ‘like’ button on a brand’s page on the site, the social network can use the image and name of that person in an advert endorsing the same company.
A US court, which previously refused to progress a case of several disgruntled Facebook members who were angered by this process, overturned its decision last month.
The San Francisco Federal Court has now allowed the group of Facebook users to proceed with their class action suit which accuses the social network or unlawfully exploiting their preferences on the site for commercial gain and without their permission.
In a recent BBC documentary about Facebook, which received scores of complaints, presenter Emily Maitlis asked Elliot Schrage, Facebook’s head of global communications and public policy, about this type of activity on the site.
He said that by people clicking the ‘like’ button on brands’ Facebook pages, was them effectively giving their consent for their name to be allied to that company and endorsing it in a sponsored story or advert.
Facebook also uses the US First Amendment as a defence to the practice.
The site is introducing the insertion of adverts into news feeds gradually in an attempt to avoid the typical user backlash it faces when introducing a new feature that involves commercialising the site. For the time being users will only see one paid news story a day in their news feed and they will not appear on the mobile version of the site.
A Facebook spokesman said: “We’ve begun slowly rolling these [sponsored stories] out in News Feeds and are labelling them as "featured." These stories respect your and your friends' privacy settings, and people will only see stories about people and Pages they've already connected to.”