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Social Disaster Averted At Facebook

A Mediaweek blunder threatened to start another social revolution at Facebook this week--but thankfully, several follow-up stories discounted the report's potentially detrimental claims. Mediaweek said Facebook would soon add "sponsored stories" or banner ads to the news feeds on users' front pages. Privacy concerns over the personal information contained in those news feeds caused an uproar among Facebook's members a few weeks ago. The additional advertisements are not the troubling thing, but the trade magazine said that once a user clicked on an ad or a "sponsored story," that person's friends would then be notified of their action and given the opportunity to join a group led by the advertiser.

Facebook's Chief Revenue Officer told Mediaweek: "Up until now, most advertising on social-network sites hasn't leveraged social networking behavior...This offers a viral opportunity that is unique for advertisers that is not disruptive." What does any of this mean?

TechCrunch says that given this information, the best case scenario for members is that ad space on your page would contain an additional, annoying note that says: "your friend clicked on THIS ad, would you like to as well?" Said TechCrunch's Michael Arrington: "Though advertising in feeds is a logical and fair thing to do, making each ad a spammy social cluster bomb is sure to backfire." Later, Facebook executives told TechCrunch that the Mediaweek story was wrong, and that no unsolicited notices would be sent. Users who had already joined a specific group would be notified when their friends--who are members of the same group--clicked on a given story, which is fair and not intrusive. As for clicking on ads, Facebook said no one would ever be notified when one of their friends clicked on an ad

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