My Likes Are My Own, Thanks

I was cruising Facebook today, and there, over on the right side in the “ads” section, was something new: it was a picture of one of my FB “friends” (whose name I am editing out here, to protect the innocent), with the message, “XXX Likes Malaria No More.”

Now, there’s an awful lot wrong with that sentence, but  I’m just going to have to ignore the extremely awkward single-negative and get right to the point: what has happened here is that Facebook has stolen my friend’s innocent (and well-meaning, in fact) “like,” and turned it into an advertisement. Presumably Facebook is being paid a little extra by “Malaria No More” because my eyes saw the ad blaring that XXX had “liked” it.

(And OK, I’ll give Facebook the benefit of the doubt here: since Malaria No More is a not-for-profit organization, it’s possible that there was not cash involved in the deal. Forgive me for presuming that. But I will also presume that this “service” won’t be restricted to nonprofits.)

It’s part of Facebook’s new “Sponsored Stories” ad format, where I guess anything you do is subject to being sold out to Facebook’s advertisers. According to ReadWriteWeb, there’s no way to “opt out” of your activity being used in ads:

The funny thing about these “personalized recommendations,” as Facebook calls them, is that an ad could come from a restaurant check-in that led to the worst meal of your life or it could show up after you “liked” a retailer only because they were running an ad that said “like us on Facebook for 10% off.

For my part, it’s going to make me limit what I do on Facebook. Basically, I’m going to “like” things a lot less. Oh, I’ll still “like” my friends’ comments, if I, well, like them. But I’m going to remove any “likes” I’ve put on commercial goods or services, where possible. I do enjoy Facebook, and generally I don’t get as worked up about its privacy issues as some people do — it may not seem like it, but I AM careful about what I post there.

But this is frankly kind of creepy.  I don’t want to be packaged and put up for sale. And I don’t want to be responsible for spamming my friends.

So forgive me if I don’t “like” your “Like if you love Jesus” or if I ignore your call to get a million likes so your dad will quit smoking. I’m not playing, sorry.


“Dislike” graphic from Dissociated Press


One thought on “My Likes Are My Own, Thanks

  1. I was just reading about this a moment ago, and yes, that stuff is Messed Up. Having said that, Facebook has been going in this direction for years- It seems like every other week, there’s some new privacy concern from them, and their failure to deal with Zynga’s even shadier steal-your-information-through-games-and-sell-it strategy is ridiculous in and of itself.
    If it wasn’t such a useful way to keep up with everyone’s latest going-ons, I’d disable my account. But then, that’s sort of the core problem, huh?

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