Facebook Agrees To Let Users Control Whether Or Not They’re Advertising Something

Facebook has finally agreed that yeah, maybe users should be able to control whether or not it appears to their friends that they’re advertising a product or page. Fancy that! As part of the settlement in a lawsuit brought by five users, Facebook says it will change its controls to enable members to control which content can be used in Sponsored Stories.

According to Reuters, Facebook could stand to lose about $103 million in potential revenue from the change.

The Facebook members who sued said the social network had turned them into marketers without giving them any compensation or a chance to opt out of advertising their “likes” to their friends.

The settlement agreement filed yesterday says Facebook will maintain these changes and other new disclosures for at least two years. It still needs to be approved by a U.S. District Judge in California, who will decide whether the deal’s terms are good enough for the plaintiffs.

As reported earlier, Facebook will pay $10 million to charity as part of the deal, and another $10 million for plaintiffs’ attorneys’ fees.

Facebook will change ad service to settle lawsuit [Reuters]


Edit Your Comment

  1. Coffee says:

    People who do decide to advertise, however, will get a barn in Farmville that gives them free money, or a special attack in Mafia Wars that automatically kills anyone who is not advertising.

    • Blueskylaw says:

      I’d spit on your crops if I didn’t think it would help them grow.

      • Coffee says:

        Spit all you want. My farm is an empty dust bowl that symbolizes my existential ennui. I bought a cow, but only so I could watch him starve to death. I named him Creativity.

  2. CrazyEyed says:

    Sure, you can use my “like” on a product I just recently bought or mentioned as long as you pay me. If you are going to pay others to endorse your products, you can be damn sure I want a piece of the pie. Is the same as using your name or likeness to an advertisement without your knowledge. People sue and win those cases all the time. I don’t see how it would be any different for Facebook. They had to see red flags with this one.

    • Doubting thomas says:

      You are paid. In exchange for access to the data you put on the site (and clicking like is just adding data) you get access to the site.
      Anything facebook has from you is something you willingly gave them.

  3. Blueskylaw says:

    Why do people still refer to Facebook as a social network?
    It is not a social network, it is an advertising mechanism.

    • Coffee says:

      True…that’s why you need to join my gang, you bastard.

      What? No means no? Well FINE! >:(

    • Roy Hobbs says:

      Not if you use Adblock

    • duncanblackthorne says:

      Not a day goes by that I celebrate the fact that I dumped Facebook months ago. Never, ever going back.

    • xanadustc says:

      I would actually disagree….an advertising mechanism actually works, Facebook has shown in stats to not work as an advertising source.

  4. jrwn says:

    So the attorneys win, nothing about the plaintiffs getting anything.

  5. Martha Gail says:

    I kind of think if you “like” something you’re publicly endorsing it. Why else would you hit the like button? What did people think the button was for? I don’t need to be privately told I like something because I already know I like it. If you don’t want to be put in someone’s news feed saying you like something, don’t hit the button.

    • MMD says:

      I see what you mean, but there’s a disconnect between me clicking “like”(which is generally an opt-in for a product or public figure I want to receive information about in my feed, and something I can end whenever I want by “unliking”) and the continually rebroadcasting of my one-time click used as advertising without my consent and without compensation.

      If you were to put a bumper sticker on your car in support of a cause or a political candidate, does that personal public endorsement give the cause or candidate the right to say “Martha Gail supports us” in their ads?

      • Not Given says:

        Sometimes ‘Like’ just means you want to post something on the company’s page and there is no ‘Dislike’ button.

        • MMD says:

          True – I’ve temporary “liked” pages to gain commenting privileges, than “unliked” the page after I was done with my comment.

      • Doubting thomas says:

        But if you put that bumper sticker on your car, (hit like) and then drove it on the street in public (posted it on the internet), then anyone and everyone would be free to take pictures of it and post/use those pictures however they liked as long as they liked.

        • MMD says:

          Sure. If a random person takes a photo, that’s true.

          But what Facebook was doing was akin to taking that photo, searching down my license plate to get my name and using it in paid advertising. That’s crossing a line, and I’m glad they got slapped for it.

  6. AllanG54 says:

    Why companies just about force people to sign up using Facebook or check out their pages on Facebook is beyond me. When a company pulls that crap I don’t bother with them.

  7. CrazyEyed says:

    This is the problem: Advertisers already pay Facebook to display their images. However, Facebook was allowing those advertisers to directly/indireclty use your name and likeness without your permission. Anytime a company uses your name and likeness to endorce a product or service, they have to get your specific permission. Using Facebook as a medium is not getting your permission to endorse their product or service, regardless if you’ve liked it, mentioned it or spoke about it or not.

    I’m surprised as a multi-billion dollar company, they didn’t spend enough time thinking about the ramifications. Either that or thought the advertising revenue would be more than enough to fight off legal complaints from us little guys. Apparently $10 million to charity and another $10 million for ‘attorney’ fees talks.

    Kinda funny how adding one button or one feature is the difference between up to $103 million dollars. Facebook was thinking green. They’ll have to do it another way. Then again, a lot of people who scream about their privacy being taken will disregard the change and forget to opt out of sharing their “likes” across advertisements.

  8. coffee100 says:

    Does anyone get the image of 500 million people humping this gigantic machine that is burying the planet in spam while its stock price circles the bowl?

    This is the biggest hottest shit in America right now. This glorified message board is a $20 billion company! This country has gone right round the bend. We are off the hook. Dumb as a bag of hammers. About as sharp as a sack of wet mice.

    60 years ago, the biggest company in America actually built things and employed people who could afford a home and food at the same time. We couldn’t build dogshit in this country if we backed a truck full of scrambled eggs into a kennel.

    • Warren - aka The Piddler on the Roof says:

      Well spoken, sir.

    • ferozadh says:

      Welcome to the Information Age. Knowing 500 million people’s likes and dislikes is apparently worth a lot to someone. And don’t diss message boards. As long as there’s a need to communicate ideas across time and space, there will be need for “message boards”.

  9. DJ Charlie says:

    That explains the post from my father (a 68 year old diabetic who avoids ALL fast food) saying he just had lunch at McDonalds and was, I quote “I’m lovin’ it!”, a phrase he has never uttered in his life.

  10. maxamus2 says:

    But will this be that everyone is already opted-in and you have to go through the maze of settings to opt-out??

    • scoosdad says:

      Facebook needs a one-stop opt-out click labeled “LEAVE ME ALONE, DAMMIT!”.

      • SG_Cleve says:

        They have it. Search the help pages for “How do I delete my account”.

        Follow the instructions, then go meet a friend for lunch.

  11. pythonspam says:

    “According to Reuters, Facebook could stand to lose about $103 million in potential revenue from the change.

    As reported earlier, Facebook will pay $10 million to charity as part of the deal, and another $10 million for plaintiffs’ attorneys’ fees.”

    Does anybody else see the disconnect here? Yes, they have to stop, but this is why our justice system allows for punitive damages. The plaintiffs should have gotten something other than a ‘$10 million (tax-deductible) donation to a charity of facebook’s choosing.’