How Facebook Is Using Your Photos in Ads

Much has been written regarding Facebook’s new “Statement of Rights and Responsibilities” policy — the company announced changes to it a few weeks back in the wake of a class action lawsuit settlement at the end of August.

Most alarming to users was the understanding that their profile data, including their profile picture, name, and personal information, could show up as part of a Facebook ad their friends may see on the site. This information was not new, but it was spelled out in more detail for the first time by Facebook.

The advertisements, known as social ads, are tailored in an attempt to provide users with more relevant ads. For example, if you ‘Like’ Nike’s company page, your friends may see a Nike ad alongside their feed, which may include a thumbnail of your profile picture and the fact that you ‘Like’ the company’s page. The belief is that if you like a company or brand, there’s a good chance your friends may feel the same way.

For users who were unaware of Facebook’s ad policy, the added transparency was alarming. The more detailed explanation was new, but the underlying meaning about Facebook’s use of user data was not.

Faceboo Ads Example

According to Facebook’s Statement of Rights and Responsibilities:

You give us permission to use your name, profile picture, content, and information in connection with commercial, sponsored, or related content (such as a brand you like) served or enhanced by us. This means, for example, that you permit a business or other entity to pay us to display your name and/or profile picture with your content or information, without any compensation to you. If you have selected a specific audience for your content or information, we will respect your choice when we use it.

So, if nothing is new, then what should users expect?

Your profile picture and information may show up alongside ads displayed on your friends’ profiles. Ads users see on Facebook may be paired with a “like” story if one of his or her friends has liked that company’s brand page on the site. For example, an ad for Amazon may also mention which of your friends have “liked” Amazon’s page.

You can opt-out of social ads without deleting your Facebook. Simply go to your “Privacy Settings,” and click on the “Ads” tab on the lefthand side and edit the settings so that your social info is not included in ads. You cannot, however, opt-out of Sponsored Stories, which are essentially another type of ad. If you like a story on a brand page or share that you engaged with a brand, that brand can pay Facebook to ensure that it shows up in your friends’ feeds.

Facebook Sponsored Stories

Your profile picture will not show up in ads that strangers see. Social ads on Facebook appear only within your network, a spokesperson confirmed. Facebook also takes into account your privacy settings, meaning if you hide certain info from friends, it will not show up on an ad that they see.

You will not be compensated in any way if you do participate. By liking brand pages, you are (unintentionally) helping advertisers find possible ad targets (your friends). You won’t be compensated for this.

How do you feel about Facebook’s ad policy? Tell us in the comments below.

Image: Flickr, Kris Krug

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