Facebook has introduced a new About page for people to learn how advertising works on the site. Some users are seeing a notice above the News Feed directing them to the page that includes a simple breakdown of how and why Facebook shows ads, a video and answers to common questions.
The new “About Advertising on Facebook” section of the site positions ads as a way to keep the social network free for users. The page also emphasizes that ads are shown without letting advertisers know who you are. Many users are under the impression that Facebook sells personal information directly to advertisers. In reality, advertisers use the self-serve Marketplace tool or work with a representative to target audience without ever being able to identify individuals. The About page also reminds users that they can choose not to see certain ads by clicking the X in the corner.
This type of education effort is overdue, as many users who have been on the site for years have little understanding of how ads on Facebook differ from other display networks. To avoid the type of backlash it has received in the past, the company will need to continue to be proactive about helping users and members of the media understand the way the platform works now and how it will be changing, especially as it relates to advertising and user privacy. This will be particularly important as Facebook begins showing Sponsored Stories within the News Feed and likely on mobile devices.
The new About page might not be directly related to an agreement with the Data Protection Commissioner of Ireland announced today, but it is worth noting the social network committed to providing more transparency about how users are targeted by advertisers and how personal information is used for advertising to others within the next six months.