Facebook killing off one kind of ad that some users hated

A program pairing user activity with promotional content will disappear come April 9

Facebook is pulling the plug on a controversial advertising program that served ads to people based on the activity of their friends, such as "Likes" and check-ins.

On Thursday, the company said in its developers forum that it would be phasing out the ad type, which is called "sponsored stories," effective April 9. After that, advertisers will no longer be able to create such ads, the company said.

Facebook gave notice to its ad partners this week that the change would be taking place so they can make the necessary adjustments to their campaigns, the company explained in a separate blog post.

Facebook's sponsored stories added a form of social endorsement to ads. Or, at least, that was the idea. If you checked in at or Liked a restaurant chain, for example, your profile name or photo might be placed alongside an ad from that business in your friends' News Feeds.

However, the ads created legal troubles and headaches for Facebook, because some users objected to the use of their likenesses in connection with advertising. A 2011 class-action suit against Facebook argued that the feature violated the privacy of minors by not asking permission to use their likenesses for material gain.

That case was settled last year when a U.S. judge approved a US$20 million fund for Facebook to settle the suit. In a statement, a Facebook spokesman declined to comment on whether discontinuing sponsored stories changes that settlement.

Now Facebook seems to be saying that it can make do with any number of other ad units, and that the activity of its members can still appear next to those ads. "Stories about social actions your friends have taken, such as liking a page or checking in to a restaurant, is now eligible to appear next to all ads shown to friends on Facebook," the company said.

People can adjust their Ads and Friends settings to limit when their activity is paired with ads shown to friends, the company said.

Facebook's decision to close the sponsored stories program also comes as the company seeks to streamline its ad offerings. Last year Facebook said it would be simplifying its ad creation process for marketers by reducing redundancies and in some cases eliminating ad components.

Facebook's troubles with its sponsored stories haven't stopped one of its competitors from having a go at basically the same product. In October, Google announced "shared endorsements," which feature its users in ads across its sites when those users recommend products or stores.

Zach Miners covers social networking, search and general technology news for IDG News Service. Follow Zach on Twitter at @zachminers. Zach's e-mail address is zach_miners@idg.com

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags social mediainternetFacebookadvertisingsocial networkingInternet-based applications and services

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Zach Miners

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?