Apparently Facebook has begun re-posting people’s likes at random intervals, usually a prominent product or brand, posted with a hyperlink to a persuasively worded “related article” (a.k.a. Sponsored Story) . On the surface these pseudo-updates look authentic and almost identical to regular status updates, but guess what, they’re published on your behalf completely unbeknownst to you.
Last week my partner mentioned how odd it was that my Facebook updates were routinely including likes for a well-known brand of take-out pizza and Mexican fast food. Conservatively speaking, let’s say this was happening several times per week. Now don’t get me wrong, I love pizza and a good Mexican burrito every now and then, but I wouldn’t say I eat the stuff several times a week.
As it turns out I had in fact become a fan of these particular products several years ago. Now it seems these fast food brands wanted all my Facebook friends to know I was liking these products every week—again and again—presumably around dinner time.
While impersonation might sound a bit strong, Facebook could be seen as taking significant liberties with our likes by making it seem as though we’re actively endorsing a product or brand on a recurring basis. Using our name and profile picture next to an Ad gives the appearance of a legitimate personal status update and makes others—that is, our friends—more inclined to stop and read the message.
From a digital marketing perspective this is a very clever appropriation of our Facebook identity. Although the mild annoyance one might feel when they learn their profile is being used to promote products on a regular basis (and without expressed written consent) could eventually turn sour if friends start formulating certain opinions about you based on what you’ve liked in the not so distant past.
Update: Here comes the enevitable class action lawsuit.
In October , Facebook agreed to a settlement about this whole Sponsored Stories issue, wherein they may have used your likeness in a Sponsored Story ad without your permission. The settlement set aside $20 million for you poor, wronged souls, and now Facebook is starting to get ready to pay it out.
So, in the event your likeness was appropriated you can file a claim to receive a whopping $10 payout from Zuckerberg and company.