Lately I’ve been seeing far more ads on Facebook supported by implicit endorsements from friends. I’ve also had other friends share screenshots of ads and applications that I endorse. While Facebook did an admirable job mitigating the Beacon controversy, the debate about its Social Ads is far from over, and Facebook clearly isn’t yet giving enough control to its users.
Consider this ad that appeared in the left-hand ad space on friend Jeremiah Owyang‘s profile page, which he then sent to me:
Yes, about a month ago I did sign up as a fan of Blockbuster’s Facebook page. Yet I never told Blockbuster that it could use me to endorse its ads. I’m not a user of Blockbuster Total Access. In fact, as I write this, I’m home sick, I don’t have any good Netflix movies here, and there’s nothing but garbage on pay-per-view On-Demand or HBO On-Demand, so I even looked up Blockbuster to see if there’s one near my apartment, and the closest is ten blocks away (others that were closer have shut down since I last checked). If anything, I’m a little pissy with Blockbuster right now, so I’m surely not going to provide a testimonial for their ad campaign.
So what’s the next logical step? I tried to opt out of the advertising. Of course, I can’t. The only setting I can change says, "Allow Blockbuster to send Updates to the Updates tab of my Facebook Inbox" – in other words, I can opt in or out of Blockbuster messaging through Facebook. How come I can’t opt into or out of its ad campaign? Here’s the screen shot of the settings on Blockbuster:
This doesn’t just revolve around pages. Jan Van den Bergh also sent me a screenshot of how I provided this kind of endorsement for an application being advertised, and not even one of the apps I’m particularly fond of. I wonder what else I’m endorsing. Facebook, this isn’t over.
Below is another example of such an ad, and in this one the member is inadvertently promoting Jackass, which may or may not be his cup of tea. Added irony: The ad appeared when I was writing someone from MoveOn.org about this issue. So much irony it’s oozing out of every orifice: The member whose identity I’ve hidden works for Facebook. You can’t make this stuff up.