Erroneous Warnings About Facebook Ads Go Viral

People are circulating reposted status updates somewhat erroneously warning about Facebook beginning to use personal photos for ad targeting.

A status update has begun circulating among Facebook users’ walls yesterday, claiming that Facebook is being “sneaky again” and will begin including your personal photos in advertisements targeted to your friends. The erroneous postings have been going up as rapidly as several times a minute as of this writing.

The update seems to imply that ads would use your friend’s information to make you pay attention to certain brands, events, or places. However, unlike Facebook’s Sponsored Stories, these ads would not be reiterations of information your friends have publicly expressed interest in (through likes or checking in), but would simply lift a friend’s personal photo to use in a random ad of a random company.

In other words, while the real Sponsored Stories is aimed at making you noticed products your friends have explicitly supported in one way or another, this allegedly new kind of ad targeting would simply grab your pictures to lure your friends into clicking on anything Facebook wants them to. This practice defies the site’s written policies.

As stated on Facebook’s advertising guidelines, lines 7B and 7C, advertisers cannot use user data (including photos) in their ads without prior consent either from Facebook or the user. Also, if you follow the instructions on that status update and go to “Facebook Ads” under your “Account Settings,” you’ll see that Facebook very clearly says that if they use a photo of you, it will only be a profile picture and not one of your album pictures.

Just like when the false rumor about Facebook shutting down on March 15th had users going berserk, or when it was said Facebook would delete inactive accounts to free up space, this new viral message seems to have no base in reality but is somehow making the rounds around the world. Disregard it and don’t repaste.

Have you seen this message spreading on your friends’ walls?

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