Will Facebook’s ‘Sponsored Stories’ Impact PR Efforts?

Ad Age has brought us the details of the new marketing offering from Facebook that will turn a user’s “likes” into “sponsored stories” that promote brands. According to the story, users won’t be able to opt out, although “advertisers that don’t want to take the chance of having negative sponsored stories pop up about them can limit their buys to likes.”

MSNBC.com raises a red flag.

Continuing to fulfill its unspoken agreement with users to regularly provide them with new things to protest, Facebook is testing a new advertising program in which the things you “Like” are turned into advertisements in your friends’ feeds. Same goes for locations where you check in.

Oh, and you can’t opt out.

A video posted on the Facebook site talks about “these word of mouth recommendations” and emphasizes that these sponsored stories are a message from your Facebook friends. From a PR standpoint, does this have a downside for social media initiatives? Will this impact your programs at all?

The comments on the Facebook post announcing the program are mostly positive, although one person writes:

i hate to be the tinfoil hat here but all these comments here make me think you guys actually in favor of being pro bono online advertisement drones. how can I not sign up for this…

Sorry Lucien.