Facebook Sponsored Stories Can Harbor Suspicious Likes

By Justin Lafferty 

Facebook users have been seeing more sponsored stories in their mobile and desktop news feeds, saying, “(Friend) likes (brand).” But as a report on ReadWrite notes, several users have seen their names (or those of their friends) attached to pages they haven’t liked.

The story started out as an investigation of deceased Facebook users popping up in sponsored stories. The explanation for that one? If the person’s page has not been memorialized through Facebook, then the site continues operating as if they are still alive, such as making their name available for ads.

However, as ReadWrite’s Bernard Meisler dug further, he found that several friends were appearing in Facebook ads for pages with which they had no affiliations. He saw several of his friends’ names being used in ads for major brands such as Walmart and Subaru. Meisler shared screenshots of the ads with his friends, who replied that they had definitely not liked the brands:


Meisler polled his friends, finding that many had likes they never knew they clicked.

Facebook responded to Meisler, saying that these likes may have been accidental, especially on the mobile app. A Facebook spokesperson even pinpointed the day and time that one of his friends liked a brand they claimed they didn’t:

The Facebook spokesman says it’s possible those people liked something by accident, by inadvertently pressing a button, perhaps on the mobile app. In response to the specific example of Nicolala liking Walmart, Facebook insists it really did happen: “We show that the like happened Oct. 1 at 6:46 p.m.,” the spokesman says.

Readers: Have you seen your name connected with a Facebook page that you don’t recall liking?