If you have a personal profile on Facebook you may have noticed that more and more of your friends seem to be ‘liking’ various articles which appear in your news feed? A bit irritating perhaps. But you may be surprised to know that your friends are seeing the same sort of links from you too. However, neither of you are actually posting them; Facebook is.
The links are to articles on pages that they, and you, have liked and Facebook takes the fact that you ‘like’ the page and then links it and your name to a ‘related’ article post. The post with your name associated to it then gets posted into the news feeds of all of your friends.
You can, however, prevent Facebook from using your name in this way by changing one of your privacy settings.
This is where to find the settings; or navigate to it by clicking on the padlock icon located in the top right of your Facebook profile near your name, then click on ‘see more settings’ and you’ll get to your privacy settings page, then click on ‘Adverts’ located in the left hand menu. You’ll see two types of advertising that Facebook is able to associate your name with. To change the settings for each click on ‘edit’ and change the status to be ‘no-one’. This will prevent your name being associated with all those ‘related’ article posts that are being sponsored by the pages that you like.
Most people aren’t aware that their name is being associated with these related posts and articles and it can potentially have some embarrassing repercussions. This recent article on LifeHacker: How Facebook Is Using You to Annoy Your Friends (and How to Stop It) goes into more detail about the potential ramifications of being associated with articles you know nothing about and how to prevent it.
This whole issue of Facebook recycling your Likes is also talked about here in this Forbes article: Facebook Is Recycling Your Likes To Promote Stories You’ve Never Seen To All Your Friends.
The knock on effect of all this is that Facebook may be damaging the very thing they are trying to promote. The articles appear because Facebook Page users are paying to have their articles sponsored into users news feeds, but the users are getting tired of seeing all of these additional sponsored articles in their feeds and are ignoring them or marking them as spam. Additionally, once Facebook users read articles like this, and the LifeHacker and Forbes ones linked above, they realise that their names are being associated with sponsored articles and will go and adjust their privacy settings accordingly, thus reducing the target audience available for the sponsored stories. But for businesses on Facebook perhaps the most damaging side to all of this is that users are re-thinking which pages they do actually want to be associated with and are ‘un-liking’ pages by the dozen. I certainly have been through my own page likes and had quite a brutal clear out and ‘un-liking’ session. I’m sure others will be doing the same.
Facebook is, of course, a fantastic tool which is not going anywhere in a hurry and which is most likely going to continue its domination of the social media arena, but it seems to be making itself more and more complex to use – especially in terms of things like privacy settings which have become so complicated that you need a degree in page navigation in order to set them up. And for most users, and of course to Facebook’s benefit, the idea of how to amend the never ending list of complex settings or even that so many different settings are even available is too long-winded and tedious to contemplate.
Facebook will continue to find ways to monetize, and that’s to be expected. But users should perhaps be made more aware of the information that is being posted to their friends news feed simply by association.