Facebook Plans To Include Adverts In Users’ Newsfeeds

Facebook users will soon be seeing a clear sign of the increasingly commercialisation of the social networking giant, after it emerged that adverts will begin appearing in users newsfeeds.

At the moment, Facebook users already see adverts or what it calls ‘sponsored stories‘, but this is currently restricted in the ad column on the righthand side of the page. Now it is reported that these adverts or sponsored stories will be inserted in the main news feed in the centre of the screen, from as earlier as next month.

No Opt Out

Apparently the adverts will be based on those brands that have been “liked” or commented on by a user’s friends. No more than one advert will appear in the news feed per day, but users will not be able to opt out of seeing them.

It is reported that the ads will look similar to normal updates but will included the word “Sponsored” at the bottom righthand corner of the posting.

“Starting early next year, we will gradually begin showing sponsored stories in news feed,” a Facebook spokesman told Sky News. “Our goal is to do this thoughtfully and slowly.

“We hope to show people no more than one sponsored story in their newsfeed per day and the story will be clearly labelled,” the company affirmed.

The thinking behind the move is that the adverts will help Facebook as it seeks to increase its commercial opportunities and generate more revenues ahead of its IPO, which could value the company at around $100 billion (£64bn). Most of Facebook’s sales come from the sale of targeted advertising on the Facebook pages of its 750 million plus users.

The company is acutely aware of its users’ feelings and will be conscious the move could alienate some users. It previously did put adverts into its main newsfeed in 2006, but stopped the practice in 2008 saying it was too disruptive for users.

Facebook Lawsuits

Facebook is right to be treading carefully here, after a US judge recently ruled that Facebook can be sued by people who claim that showing adverts that their friends apparently like violates a California law regarding commercial endorsements.

According to Businessweek, the ruling was made by US District Judge Lucy Koh in San Jose, after she rejected Facebook’s bid to dismiss the lawsuit on 16 December. She ruled that plaintiffs may pursue claims that the company’s sponsored ads violate State law and are fraudulent. Koh granted Facebook’s request to dismiss a claim that it unjustly enriched itself with the sponsored ads.

California has a Right of Publicity Statute, which essentially prohibits the non-consensual use of another person’s name, voice, signature, photograph or likeness for advertising purposes.

In the UK, research in November found that British people resent big brands invading social networks such as Facebook and Twitter.

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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