For the last couple of days, there’s been some chatter about the new addition to Facebook for business: Sponsored Stories. Our local newspaper, The News and Observer, put out an article briefly explaining the service and quoting someone who says that Facebook users should be mad and push back. My friend, Jay Dolan, wrote a post on it. Jay thinks it’s a bad idea.
I disagree. As a marketer, I think that Sponsored Stories is a fantastic idea. I don’t feel like using this service would violate the privacy of any user, or that it’s something I should have to pay the individual user to use. I honestly don’t see how it’s all that different than the “this many of your friends like this page” box, which you can post wherever you want. Marketers across the web are probably agreeing that they can’t wait to try this new service.
As individuals, I think a lot of people are going to disagree. I’ve been seeing articles and blog posts explaining to their readers how to delete their cookies and remove themselves from everything that could possibly be used to send them a targeted ad–which I don’t understand, as I’d rather see an ad for something I’m interested in than something that has nothing to do with me. So I’m assuming that the same people who are interested in that information are also angered by the fact that Facebook does not offer an opt-out feature to Sponsored Stories at this time.
My take is this: Facebook has made no secret about the fact that your info belongs to them. In reality, you should know by now that nothing you put on the internet ever fully belongs to you again. Although there are still privacy and plagiarism laws in effect, I don’t see that Facebook highlighting something you’ve done on their platform to your friends on that platform is in violation of any of those.
These are things your friends would already see. If you don’t want them to see it, don’t do it. As long as they maintain our privacy settings, I think they have the right. We choose to put our information on Facebook, knowing that every time they add a new feature, the automatic setting is opted-in. This should not be a surprise to us.
Going back to my marketer self, my only concern is how Facebook will pick the stories to highlight. Because if I were Walmart, I certainly wouldn’t want the picture in Jay’s post to be my sponsored story.
So how do you feel about Facebook’s Sponsored Stories? Creepy? Awesome? And from what side are you looking at it?
Photo by Robert Scoble