The LA Times Technology Blog reports that Facebook has the newest use for its users’ data, postings, and “content”: let advertisers use that content to advertise to users’ friends (Facebook calls them “sponsored stories”). According to the paper:
Facebook’s new Sponsored Stories feature will allow companies to take any user content — such as status updates, Facebook application use, or Places check-ins — and turn that content into an advertisement for its products on the social networking website.
This is just one more example of Facebook going to (over?) the edge of the privacy/advertising boundary in the search for revenue. Another recent example, as noted by the LA Times, involves giving advertisers access to user phone numbers and addresses (and then taking that access away again, and then promising they were going to give it back yet again). More details on “sponsored stories” in the Facebook video:
The moral of the story (yet again)? Facebook is not your friend. Facebook is a money maker. Facebook wants to make more money. You are how Facebook makes money. I am not advocating, as many did last year, that you should leave Facebook (I most likely won’t leave Facebook over this), but instead, be careful what information you make available there (for example, my phone number isn’t found on the site, nor is my address, and I don’t “check in” anywhere on Facebook).
As a final note, under the new plan, advertisers might be able to use your profile picture in advertising to your friends. My current profile picture isn’t a picture of me, it’s of the moon, though I’m considering going to a picture of me flipping Facebook the bird. Let them use that in their
advertising “sponsored stories” . . .