In August 2013, Facebook settled a class action lawsuit for $20 million regarding privacy violations resulting fro their “Sponsored Stories” ads. The ads were launched in 2011 and let people know when a friend “liked” a company page or checked into a restaurant. The downfall of these ads, and what led to the lawsuit, was that users could not limit who saw these notifications. Whereas, users can decide who sees the content they shared otherwise.
As of April, these ads will be completely eliminated from Facebook. This will put notification control back in the hands of users. A Facebook Represented stated, “You can visit your Activity Log to see who can see stories about your social actions and change the audience or unlike or delete the content at any time. In addition, you can visit your Ads and Friends setting to limit when stories about your social actions are paired with ads shown to friends.”
Although the lawsuit may have expedited the ending of “Sponsored Stories” Ads, Facebook representatives asserted they were moving away from them anyway. According to a statement released by the company, “As announced in June of last year, we’re bringing the best of sponsored stories – social context – to all ads. Since this update makes sponsored stories redundant, we will no longer offer them as a stand-alone ad unit for marketers. Social context will continue to appear with all ads where eligible. Our social advertising honors the audience that people choose, so nobody will see information in social context for an ad that they couldn’t already see.”
Updates were added to the privacy page for Facebook to inform users of the upcoming changes, as well as how to ensure their privacy settings are set to where they want them to be. Facebook also asserts the new advertising offering will be better for marketers as well. As stated in the above statement, the “sponsored stories” ads overlap with other advertising options, so eliminating them will streamline Facebook’s advertising options.