Facebook announced today “sponsored stories,” where the check-ins and likes you post onto your wall could turn into advertisements on your friends walls. As a potential advertiser, it’s a unique way to tap into personal recommendations to get more Facebook likes on your branded pages and, therefore, achieve more impressions by appearing on more walls.
For the consumer, it isn’t perfect. For example, what if you checked into a shop that ended up treating you like Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman and now you’re its Facebook spokesmodel on your friends walls? *(Well, maybe you should have worn something different to the shop, young lady.)
From what I can gather, you can stay out of the Sponsored Stories by choosing not to communicate with businesses on Facebook. This means not touching the “Like” Facebook button on any website and refusing to post your FourSquare or Facebook Places info on your wall. If you wish to not see any Sponsored Story on your wall from any of your friends, however, you’re out of luck. There is no opt out feature (cue the Protest pages) and I couldn’t find any information on what user data the advertisers get for purchasing a sponsored story since the service has yet to roll out to all businesses.
Though Sponsored Stories might be frustrating without an opt-out feature, it doesn’t appear to be breaking any privacy rules, though don’t ask me. Ask the Canadian Privacy commissioner. These guys deserve a superhero comic based on their work to protect us citizens.