If you are one of 250 million Facebook users, odds are you recently received this message, or even passed it along:
“Facebook has agreed to let 3rd party advertisers use your posted photos WITHOUT YOUR PERMISSION. To opt out: Click on SETTINGS (located on top of page in blue bar, next to logout); Select PRIVACY SETTINGS; Select NEWS FEEDS and WALL; Select the TAB that reads Facebook Ads. There will be a drop down box; Select NO ONE. Save your changes & then PASS THIS ON.”
Though I don’t consider myself an avid Facebook user, when I saw this statement popping up all over my newsfeed, I was concerned—I wouldn’t have expected something like this from a successful networking website that has allowed millions to connect socially and professionally.
Apparently, the issue is troublesome enough that Barry Schnitt—manager of policy communications at Facebook—wrote a blog entry concerning the matter, assuring readers that this was not the case. Of course, since the blog post, Facebook has taken “measures” to ensure this would not happen.
In Mr. Schnitt’s blog, he states:
“The advertisements that started these rumors were not from Facebook but placed within applications by third parties. Those ads violated our policies by misusing profile photos, and we already required the removal of those deceptive ads from third-party applications before this rumor began spreading.”
From my standpoint, I think any advertisements accessed on the Facebook website—even if they are third party applications—are Facebook’s responsibility. The ads which misused pictures were removed, but what about those third party applications? And what about ads that misuse pictures in the future? It seems as though either nothing will happen to them at all, or they will just get a slap on the wrist. Facebook even claims, “Please note that Ads generated by third-party applications you have used are not controlled by this setting.”
Obviously, companies such as Google and Facebook have to make money somehow, and targeted ads enable them to do that—but there is a difference between relevant advertising and advertising that is intrusive.
For example, Google’s third party ads are related to the web engine’s search terms. This is what I would call targeted, relevant advertising. Facebook’s third party’s applications violated the terms and agreements. That is, they used user pictures without permission (most people expect a greater degree of privacy). I consider this intrusive advertising; the sort of advertising that is unwelcome among social network users.
Though my internship here at Ogilvy will be over at the end of this month, I have been here for roughly a year and a half. In my time here, I don’t think I recall having seen any Ogilvy ad or ad campaign—in any presentation or seminar I’ve attended—that could be considered intrusive. I am not an expert on marketing and advertising, but for big-name brands, it seems like advertising in this manner can be detrimental to the reputations they’ve built and hope to maintain.