Sponsored Facebook Posts Turn Your Updates Into Ads For Which You Get No Money

For the none of you who really, really wanted to have your Facebook updates automatically converted into ads for which you receive no money — and which you can’t opt out of — the site has answered your prayers!

Facebook is rolling out a new program that allows advertisers to use your status updates for their own buzz-generating purposes.

For example, if you write an update saying “Just bought me some Starbucks” or you “check in” at a Starbucks location, Starbucks can take that update, slap their logo on it and label it a “Sponsored Story.”

Facebook says that only your “friends” will be able to see sponsored stories generated by your updates. Unfortunately, there is currently no way for users to opt out of the program.

So that means you’re not only not getting paid for unwittingly shilling for a company — one you may not even like — but that you also have no say in how your content is being used.

A Facebook product manager tries to keep a straight face as he explains the reasoning behind this in a video about the new ads:

Anything that one of your friends is seeing as a sponsored story which features some of your content is actually something they would have already seen in their news feed… A sponsored story never goes to somebody who is not one of your friends.

But isn’t it one thing to tell your friends “Just had that new Burger King burger” and another for Burger King to use it in a paid ad for which you receive zero remuneration?

And you know it won’t be long before savvy Facebook users figure out how to get Starbucks and other advertisers to sponsor crude and/or obscene updates. We await hilarious screengrabs.

Facebook’s ‘sponsored stories’ turns your posts into ads [CNN]


Edit Your Comment

  1. shadowboxer524 says:

    I think I would use alternative characters to avoid having the ad in the update. So, $tarbucks instead of Starbucks. Of course, they could end up using those for ads, too. But I’ll just get more creative. Disemvowel, perhaps?


    • Syncop8d1 says:

      I thought of that as well. Another idea might be to just describe in detail the establishment without naming it. Example: I stopped by the popular-coffee-place-with-green-logo-that-was-founded-in-Seattle and enjoyed a sugar free latte.” Clumsy? Yes. But that post would be my way of mocking the stupidity of this marketing idea.

    • parv says:

      “I am at Burnt Coffee.”

    • kc2idf says:

      I heard Dave Ramsey last night call the place “Fivebucks”.

    • Jerkamie says:


    • cmdrico7812 says:

      I love Bigby (or Beaners if you remember those days).

    • Working for the man, he pays well. says:

      You can seriously turn this around. Think about it.

      Starbucks is overpriced, burnt, and just all around bad coffee.
      Brought to you by Starbucks!

  2. DJSeanMac says:

    “STARBUCKS DOESN’T CARE ABOUT BLACK COFFEE.” Think that’ll fix it? Gotta love Kanye.

    • Telekinesis123 says:

      That gives me an idea, if Facebook continues with its policy of not letting people op-out, people could say “Starbucks sucks!” or some other thing as a form of protest and have their nice logo branded right there beside it.

  3. coujo says:

    heres a thought, would it be possible in any way to sue the companies for “owed wages” for using our posts as adverts? wonder if and how they thought about dealing with this sort of thing?

    • kc2idf says:

      Not being a Facebook user (and it being increasingly unlikely that I will become me), I don’t know: do the terms of use assign your copyrights to them? If not, I could see this being prosecuted as a copyright infringement.

      • CTrees says:

        Alternately, False Light privacy invasion. That’s a fun tort, right there. Would be rather hilarious if they hit someone famous with one of these sponsored posts, only to have them turn around and sue.

      • Southern says:

        Yes, one of the Facebook Terms of Service stipulate that everything you do on their site belongs to them, and they can do with it as they please.

        • Dollie says:

          BUT they also hit people when there are images/videos/etc uploaded that violate copyright claims. Best thing to do is upload your images to an image sharing site, then upload to Facebook. When the ad pops up with your smiling face on it, file a copyright claim as it was previously published elsewhere and is not meant for corporate use.

          I dunno if it’d work, but might as well try :)

          • MuffinSangria says:

            I’ve never been on facebook, so this could be a dumb question. What happens if a company uses their trademarked/copyrighted logo as their picture. Does facebookl then claim to have ownership of that? Would facebook then try to use that logo in “ads”?

    • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

      I guarantee SOMEONE will find a way to sue them over this.

      Frankly I think it would have merit. Unsolicited advertising to which I receive no pay for commiting. Since I haven’t signed a contract, I can set my own fee for such advertisements.

      • gerald.saul says:

        I’m not so sure. I think anything you put onto Facebook is subsequently owned by them and they have the right to use it any way they please. Therefore, this is all on the “up-and-up”.

  4. Telekinesis123 says:

    Facebook is going to consume itself.

  5. Rachacha says:

    Yet one more reason why I am not on Facebook. This new system is however prone to abuse:

    “I just murdered a Starbucks Barista because they would not give me a medium coffee”
    “Checking in at Burger King. I hope I do’t get explosive diarrhea like the last time I ate there”

    • Darkkeyboard says:


    • jesusofcool says:

      There’s lots of ways to get around Facebook’s bs on some level. My solution is yours – I’ve significantly lessened my usage in the 5 years I’ve been using it. At this point, I generally forget I have it. In the end, that’s the best way to fight back against a company that has zero respect for its consumer.

    • areaman says:

      Is it abuse if we laugh at the posts? I’d hit the +1 if my friends posted funny stuff like that.

    • dwtomek says:

      It is incredibly shortsighted of them to assume that any time a company’s name is mentioned on Facebook that it will be in a positive light. For anecdotal evidence, I submit that I have literally never posted anything about a company on Facebook unless it was to complain about them. However, if they want to pay to sponsor my ire…well, more power to them.

  6. Anto103 says:

    This won’t end well for the advertisers.

  7. Admiral_John says:

    Maybe this will stop some people for posting every single little detail of their lives on Facebook.

    • scoosdad says:

      Or on Twitter?

    • Starfury says:

      I agree. How much of your life do you really need to put online? Maybe it’s just that I’m older (mid 40’s) and don’t see the need for this constant connection to the internet. I guess I could Facebook my day updating every time I took a call at work.

  8. TalKeaton: Every Puzzle Has an Answer! says:

    If you don’t like it, couldn’t you just delete the status update?

    • MMD says:

      Maybe, maybe not. This reads as if there will be two separate postings – the original status update and the ad. And who knows how long that information is stored?

  9. fujii13 says:

    Every time you check into a place, it’s an ad for that place. This is moving it from your wall, to the sidebar which is already being blocked by AdBlock. Just sayin’.

    • selianth says:

      Curious, I wonder if it will be removing it from your feed and ONLY displaying it in the sidebar. Cause that would suck too. I just want to see my friends’ status updates, dammit.

  10. scoosdad says:

    It would be funny to create posts with as many sponsor mentions in it as possible, and watch them all fight it out to see who sponsor your posts.

    This won’t last long, there’s too many creative and entertaining ways to abuse the process if it’s automated to any extent.

    • Griking says:

      What would also be funny is to see how obscene of a post that you can create and have a company sponsor it.

      “I just beat up my grandmother and raped the dog. Now on way way to Starbucks”

  11. Straspey says:

    Looking at the above graphic connected to this article:

    “Joe Miller Second time today at Starbuck’s with Amber Novak” followed by the Starbuck’s logo.


    How about:

    “Joe Miller Second time today in bed with Amber Novak” – followed by a logo for Trojan Condoms or maybe Sealy Posturpedic Mattresses…

  12. seth_lerman says:

    Sure you can opt out… stop using Facebook and you’ve opted out.

    Geez, if it is really only going to friends, the same friends who saw the original post cause it was your status update, what’s the issue again?

    • AstroPig7 says:

      I think a better question is: If it will only be seen by people who already see your wall posts, then why bother having the ad in the first place?

      • seth_lerman says:

        Cause the advertisers who foot the bill for the rest of us to use Facebook see a value in it and it’s their money.

        I suppose when I’m paying the bill I’ll be able to call the shots.

        • outis says:

          But all it seems it will do is make customers genuinely giving them good word-of-mouth look like paid shills and, based on the comments here, encourage people to bad mouth their products.

          • seth_lerman says:

            We here are just a very small sampling of the general Facebook public. What they are actually accomplishing is making the direct tie in between their logo (that thing we all recognize instantly while driving past) and their friends. Like the point behind a jingle. It’s to get in your head and be on your mind. Same thing here with the new Facebook ads.

            • outis says:

              Just to be clear, I’m not saying it’s not in their rights (or ToS) to do this, I just think it’s going to backfire. But I don’t have any special knowledge making it more than a hunch, so time will tell.

  13. TheUncleBob says:

    Since Facebook is a free service, couldn’t you say you’re getting “paid” by getting to use Facebook for free?

    • Chris Morran says:

      so should Google be able to pull sentences from our gmail messages and use them in ads?

      • seth_lerman says:

        I don’t know, what the GMail TOS say about the contents of your messages?

        Conversely, has Facebook shown any intentions (yet) of using in Facebook email for (semi)public use? Status updates by their nature are already (semi) public.

  14. turkishmonky says:

    heh – when i actually mention a product on facebook, it’s often in a negative fashion. let’s see how good facebook is at filtering out negative messages.

    on the other hand, I doubt IE6 and apache’s mod_rewrite will be buying many ads, but my iTunes hating may get somewhere… (especially when my posts are worded like = )

  15. Alex says:

    All these work-arounds and winging, all in the name of trying to deal with an app that is run by relentless corporate jerks.

    How about this? Don’t use Facebook and live a happier life?

  16. kompeitou says:

    if not happy with ads:

    1. opt out of it by not “checking in” or posting about products or companies.

    2. stop using the free service called facebook.

    3. wait for facebook to offer a paid service that is ad free.

  17. Tallanvor says:

    This is yet another reason why I refuse to use Places, and why my interests, hobbies, jobs, etc. are all empty. And I have never purposefully “liked” anything on Facebook – When I did it accidentally, I’ve always undone it right away.

    • raydee wandered off on a tangent and got lost says:

      Right. I also hate when sites are linked up with Facebook and then show me my facebook information when I visit–I use a rather distinctive facebook name, so I can always tell when a site is trawling FB for my information. And then I go and log out of FB. I hate that they share my stuff information when I told them to stop doing that. :/

      If I didn’t have long-distance friends who refuse to use anything else to communicate with me, I wouldn’t be a member. :/

      • HogwartsProfessor says:

        I wouldn’t either, but most of my friends are long-distance so I kind of need to use it. Dealing with emails is too cumbersome.

        Am I imagining things, or did your bug used to be red?

  18. HungryGal says:

    Will you be notified if your status is ad-ified? Or will it just show up on your friends’ feeds as an advert, unbenownst to you? It would be nice to know which businesses are and are not using this tactic.

  19. JakeChance says:

    While I think it’d be great if I could somehow get paid for sponsored statuses I don’t see the problem with this system or the inability to opt out. Now, I’m not about to defend facebook tooth and nail, I use and like the site but they’re not my bffs. It is, however, important to point out that they are well within their rights to do this under the conditions they are offering their service for.

    If they’re going to try and generate some cash for putting a starbucks logo under your post about going to starbucks or a check-in (if you’re someone mental who actually uses these) it’s very content appropriate. Your friends will still probably ignore everything you post anyway.

    Now what I think would be a much bigger problem which people would have the right to get upset about is if they were just tacking ads (of any kind) on to all of your posts.

    Also, for us Firefox users out there, I’m sure it’ll only be a matter of time after this “feature” rolls out that there’s a nice extension or filter for Adblock Plus to take care of these.

    • dwtomek says:

      Just curious why you would necessarily have to be “mental” to use the check-in feature. I’ve got my page locked down to friends only and don’t accept friend requests from strangers. Am I harming myself by checking-in at my bar for the night and having friends show up based on that? Just curious if there is something in this equation that I am unaware of where it will end badly for me?

      • JakeChance says:

        No I guess there really isn’t any dangerous. I’m just not a fan of these location check in things. I don’t want something tracking me or to feel any compulsion to input into my device where I am when I go some place. The only minor benefit is that a friend sees where I checked in and comes too, but I’d probably have invited them already.

  20. theinstallguy says:

    Time for facebook to look after its users. Without us, there would be no advertisers and there would be no facebook. Opt in or opt or should be a choice. I don’t think anyone would have issues signing up for a adsense account if we were getting a couple pennies on the click. C’mon facebook, this is your DB moment. Will you be one or will you not?

  21. Griking says:

    Aren’t you already technically advertising Starbucks when you post an update saying that you’re checking in at a Starbucks? Was it really the loga that made it an ad?

    Here’s a thought, stop posting updates telling us where you are every moment of your day. We really don’t care unless we’re planning to break into your home.

  22. GMurnane says:

    Am I the only one who would pay a nominal monthly fee to not have to deal with ads and my data being sold?

  23. valleygirl_18002 says:

    Brought to you by Carl’s Jr.


  24. oldwiz65 says:

    I can come up with SO many obscene things to come up with. How long before Facebook sends these “sponsored stories” to total strangers?

    It boggles the imagination thinking about people doing it on purpose.

  25. IraAntelope says:

    I do not see this working out well at all, and you read it here.

  26. Maxamus says:

    Um, facebook is a free service, they don’t OWE you anything.

  27. duncanblackthorne says:

    Failbook can suck it. I don’t “like” anything there (except friends posts), I don’t use any apps, and I don’t even use my real name or allow anyone to photograph me or tag me in photographs. I don’t tell Facebook where I’m at, either.

  28. Tim says:

    It seems far too easy to say something negative about Starbucks and get the ad there. Do they have a way to detect if someone’s saying something negative?

    This comment has been brought to you by Starbucks(R).

  29. ajmayo says:

    Sorry Consumerist, but please check your facts. I opted out of this program about 15 minutes prior to reading this story.

  30. DjDynasty-Webology says:

    I know what my status messages would be “God Burger King has the worst food..I’ve eaten microwave burgers from a gas station that tastes better” or “OMG my espresso is so thick today I think they added Motor Oil to it at Starbucks”

  31. Firevine says:

    I never understood the point of those “checking in” apps. I don’t care where you are, and if you care where I am, you need to really examine your priorities.

    That said, I could have some fun with this, at the expense of several different corporate establishments.

  32. YokoOhNo says:

    your pranks won’t stop Squealer and Napoleon….nor do the sheep actually have a clue about anything said on here…corporations win because they own the most politicians

  33. FrugalFreak says:

    easy fix, just block and recommend to friends to block advertisers that use this.

  34. chaelyc says:

    The part that I have a problem with, is what happens if I end up the name on a sponsored ad for say, Burger King (which won’t happen, as I don’t eat there, but whatever) and then 5 minutes later I bite into my sandwich & find a toad leg inside? My friends & family trust my opinion & don’t want to endorse products or services that I haven’t deemed worthy.