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Facebook Pages: Why I don’t like Nest thermostat or anything else anymore (ninjasandrobots.com)
318 points by Shpigford on Nov 15, 2012 | hide | past | web | favorite | 133 comments

This is pretty simple: just don't "Like" anything. Seriously. It didn't take an oracle to figure out that "Likes" were always going to be a gateway to direct advertising.

And for things you "need" to "Like" (eg to enter a contest or get access to something) then just use a dummy account like many do for playing Facebook games, for much the same reason: (almost) no one wants to spam their friends with "I milked a cow!" messages.

This is Facebook's (and Twitter's for that matter) biggest problem: their apparent monetization paths are at direct odds with the user experience.

The problem with this is that at the time, to my knowledge, Facebook wasn't doing the "Social ads show an advertiser’s message alongside actions you have taken, such as liking a Page" kind of thing. Since they keep all of this data, anything you do today could be used to promote something in the future without your knowledge. Hell, even visiting a group/business may pop something up "jetti came and saw [insert business here]...shouldn't you?". If they are changing the rules but applying them retroactively, it becomes a situation where you either stop using facebook, log in and do nothing or get them to stop using past and current actions to promote ads.

Yeah, what FB does with information you give it is subject to change at any time. I "like" some things that I never clicked a Like button for because at some point between 2005 and now they converted the plain text lists of "favorite movies" and such into "Likes" for pages for those movies and all. I'd never bothered to go unlike them, but now I'm concerned that they may be spamming my friends... though, from what I see in my own feed, it's really only brands/politicians/stores that do more aggressive to-friends-of-fans advertising (a 10 year old movie has less to gain from doing that, I guess).

You can disable this functionality: they allow you to explicitly set whether your actions are allowed to be used together with advertisements to your friends; they call this "social ads".

To control this, go to "Account Settings", "Facebook Ads", "Ads and friends"/"Edit social ads setting", and tell it to "Pair my social actions with ads for" "No one" and click "Save Changes".


That was in the article. This shouldn't have to be disabled, this should have to be enabled. If you are going to enable it by default, how is it ok to show history? There is no possible way you couldn't opted out to a feature that didn't exist when something was liked 3 years ago.

Is this definitely enabled for everyone by default? Mine was already set to "No One" and i'm fairly certain i've never seen that page before.

This was enabled for me by default, and I'm certain I've never seen that page before. I created my FB page in 2008.

I'm the same.

But while I've never seen that page before historically I've been pretty strict about going in and tightening up privacy settings.

I wonder if when they introduced this they created a default based on other privacy settings?

When did you create your facebook account?

I guess, yes: if you aren't going to use Facebook for three years, maybe you should disable your account before you leave.

However, this is still somewhat sensationalistic: the concept of these social ads was very clearly laid out as one of the launch features of Pages back in 2007.


"""Ads will be getting more relevant and more interesting to you. Instead of random messages from advertisers, we've launched Social Ads. Social Ads provide advertisements alongside related actions your friends have taken on the site. These actions may be things like "Leah is now a fan of The Offspring" (if I added The Offspring to my music) or "Justin wrote a review for Sushi Hut" (If Justin wrote this review on the Sushi Hut page). These actions could then be paired with an ad that either The Offspring or Sushi Hut provides."""

As for this specific feature to turn off these kinds of advertisements, that has existed since just about three years ago: January of 2010 is when they launched the new expanded Facebook privacy settings feature, and this is one of the settings people were talking about.


The scope of when and where they appear has changed somewhat over time, especially in early 2011 with the new "sponsored stories" feature, but the idea of how this feature will work and what it means has been there for much longer than that.


Then, in 2012, they added these stories to the news feed (where they were in this article). Again: the places where these ads are shown has changed somewhat over time, but this is the exact same feature and privacy implication as all the earlier variants.


I'm thereby somewhat at a loss as to what the real issue is here, or why this is suddenly "news" to anyone: nothing has really changed in how Facebook treats these ads in many years; I'd even go so far as to say in this specific case, they haven't done it ever, but they certainly haven't done it in the last 5 years (since 2007).

Regardless, you certainly have had many years now to understand and deactivate this feature: if someone, such as the author of this original post (not you, as maybe you haven't used Facebook since 2009), really care about your privacy, and somehow at the end of 2012 you haven't noticed a giant feature linked both from "Settings" and from "Privacy" on a website that is holding tons of personal information about you, I question whether you (again, OP) really care about your privacy ;P.

>I guess, yes: if you aren't going to use Facebook for three years, maybe you should disable your account before you leave.

That is an absurd standard. When people stop using a service, they just stop using it. That doesn't mean you get to pimp them out just because they aren't around to turn your shit off.

After that statement, I spent a ton of words with examples and detailed articles showing that the guy was actually wrong about the very premise that this behavior changed: it didn't, and even that privacy feature was there just one month shy of three years ago. I felt that lead was required, however, as the guy was making statements that things might have changed while he left, and if he really cares about that, I'm sorry, but you really can't trust anyone not to change things while you are gone: if you are going to leave your house unattended for three years, I don't care if it is illegal to break into it, you are downright stupid to not figure some way to get it watched, and maybe you should just sell it or at least rent it out to others in the interim.

>> if you are going to leave your house unattended for three years... you are downright stupid to not figure some way to get it watched

That is completely different.

Number one, a common and legitimate reason to stop using Facebook is apathy. How many sites or services have you abandoned using over the years? Imagine if each one of them took your inactivity as permission to actively impersonate you.

Number two, this isn't like your abandoned house getting broken into by random people. This is like your landlord changing your rent agreement unilaterally to say that she can steal your furniture.

The real difference is that I assume my landlord is basically honest, whereas I long ago dropped that assumption about Facebook. If I heard that Facebook were taking over web cameras and selling indecent images of their users, I would not be surprised.

I see the basic policy of Facebook as "we are going to do anything we want with your account and/or data unless you vigilantly monitor and stop us." Which is why I deleted my account.

I assume they actually kept it and are still selling my data, because that's just the kind of company they are.

> I guess, yes: if you aren't going to use Facebook for three years, maybe you should disable your account before you leave.

What? Why would you have to disable your account to not have facebook send out notifications on your behalf?

> Regardless, you certainly have had many years now to understand and deactivate this feature

How could you understand this "feature" (bug), if it only shows up in other people's streams?

It is quite well and heavily documented in the settings panel of the Facebook, which is itself cross-linked from the privacy panel. Additionally, you will be seeing the behavior occur to your friends, but again: if you are not looking at the settings and privacy sections of the website but purport to care about your privacy there is something wrong with you.

if you are not looking at the settings and privacy sections of the website but purport to care about your privacy there is something wrong with you.

This is a dangerous, anti-consumer notion. Nobody should have to go out of their way to preserve their privacy. I would reword your assertion like this: "If your users have to dig through settings and privacy sections to have some semblance of a normal existence, there is something wrong with your site."

What next, people start selling your most personal information (travel habits, TV and movie viewing history, etc.) on the open market, then demand a $20/mo fee to be left alone?

>> if you are not looking at the settings and privacy sections of the website but purport to care about your privacy there is something wrong with you.

There are two separate issues here: 1) should Facebook have done this, and 2) should the user have stopped it sooner.

You say the answer to #2 is "yes." Ok, fine.

But the answer to #1 is definitely "No." I don't care if they've been doing it since the day they launched. They're spamming the user's friends, without the user's explicit action, in a way that makes it appear that the user did it personally.

How can they possibly call that a "feature"? Imagine having Skype auto-dial your contacts, impersonate your voice, and pitch them on products.

>> if you are still using Facebook but purport to care about your privacy there is something wrong with you.

There, I fixed that for you.

Read that page more closely.

Your Like can still be used in a sponsored story.

His objection is to the "so and so liked this company" in the timeline. That's a sponsored (by that company) story, and not blocked by this setting.

You have to unlike the company.

Well, both the original article (before) and the person I replied to (after) seemed to believe that that setting actually would control it, so I wouldn't be so sure about that ;P. The issue here was not the initial advertisement of the like, but that it was appearing over and over and over again later in relation to the Page: this really seems like a Sponsored Story, which is covered as part of Social Ads and this setting (as also described by various articles online if you search for these features and how to disable them).

> seemed to believe ... so wouldn't be so sure about that ;P

Sticking your tongue out and winking doesn't change the fact of what Facebook themselves tell us right on that page:

“... independent of this setting, you may still see social actions in other contexts, like in Sponsored Stories...”

Believing otherwise may be a bit of cargo culting -- the Sponsor has recently shown you and may simply not be showing you again for a while.

Colleagues and I have the setting set to "Pair my social actions with ads for No One", and have had it set since the setting was introduced. Our Likes definitely show up in "Sponsored Stories" whenever the Sponsor wants to pay to show our friends we liked them.

As Facebook tells us point blank, we are seeing social actions in Sponsored Stories.

> "just don't "Like" anything. Seriously."

I completely disagree with the idea of never "Liking" anything. There is plenty of benefits of "Liking" a Facebook page. I, personally, enjoy seeing update posts from bands, products, etc. about new content, products, promos, etc.

I think music artists is a great example to use here. I love tons of bands. A lot of those bands do not have websites other than using Facebook. I'm not going to check their Facebook pages multiple times a day, going through the 100's of artists that I "Like", just to see if they post an update of some sort. I understand that this not a universal example, and some pages are not worth "Liking" (pages that are a joke meme and not a product, company, artist, etc.), but I think it's ridiculous to say never "Like" anything.

You can subscribe to their posts without liking.

That is not true. I think subscribing only works for people accounts, not pages. Or at least, you are in a special A/B test that has that ability. Currently, I have no way of subscribing to a page to get updates. I can only "Like" the page.

Example of a page I have "Liked": http://bluetide.pro/me1r Example of the same page if I "UnLike" it: http://bluetide.pro/878h

There is no way to subscribe and get updates without "Liking" it.

I have no problem subscribing to Pages without Liking them. (Little drop down to the right of Like and Message buttons on a page; click on Add to Interest Lists...)

As per the grandparent post of this thread, I don't "Like" anything on twitter, and follow things in interested with Interest Lists.

You can also like a Page without getting messages from it: click the Liked button and uncheck "Show in News Feed".

That defeats the purpose of what I'm saying, though. I'm saying to get any sort of updates from a page, you have to "Like" it. There is no way around it, currently. There is plenty of brands I do want updates from, so I have to "Like" their page to get those updates.

I was actually not responding to you: I was expanding on what aw3c2 said to mention that the opposite was also explicitly true (and to show how to set it), as this information also helps the person you responded to (who specifically was bothered that they were getting spammed).

That said, unlike with the direction I was indicating, it does seem like what aw3c2 is only of limited applicability: while Facebook supports subscriptions to Pages, it seems like it might be something that Pages have to activate (not 100% certain about what causes it to appear).

It is not a property of every Page, however. If you do a search, though, on Google, for 'subscribe to a page without liking it' you will get numerous hits talking about such users, with screenshots of the buttons on some Pages, and discussing the rollout and announcement of the new feature.

You think they don't use subscriptions to show you ads?

It's highly possible. But even if they didn't I just hate this concept where FB/Zynga try to trick users into doing something they expect will yield X when in fact they have changed it to do Y.

For instance, I once used my PayPal account to authorize a in-game payment in FB (Zynga game) for my wife. Go figure why she likes to play that stupid game but she does. In my mind I was thinking "I am authorizing THIS payment NOW" but what they did in fact? Paypal added FB as an authorized company allowed to charge me anything.

So then when my wife clicked something curious in the game thinking she would just see something, the game actually charge my account for that. I never agreed to it charging my account once again and a third time. But that's what it did.

I know, it's probably all very well explained in the those small grey letters but I didn't bother to read. My wife won't read them. My grandma won't either. Nobody will... and they know it.

PayPal was a whole experience in itself. I had to dig down into 4-5 levels of options until I found the list of authorized companies and FB was there.

I know this can all be explained with "users are dumb and deserve it" but really? Do they have to resort to such tactics? Well, they probably have otherwise their stock will keep falling more and more... sad situation.

A few weeks ago I deleted my FB account because it was fed up with all the things mentioned here and it was a great distraction. It's impressive how little impact it had, except I have more mental space for other (let's hope so) more useful things.

When you connect to that game, one of the options on that very first screen Facebook shows you to authorize the future accesses is "who do you want to show stuff related to this app to"; I always choose "Just Me". If you don't want to spam your friends with "I milked a cow!", then don't tell Facebook you want your friends to see that content: problem solved, and much easier than using a dummy account.

I advocate a hipster approach to Facebook. Don't like anything unless it's so obscure no one has ever heard of it.

Then stop liking it once it becomes popular.

I'd upvote this but not for a sellout.

Tough words from someone who named themselves after a peanut butter cup. ;)

Facebook's approach is desperate and ham-handed. It shows me nearly every day on the mobile app that the same three people I went to high school with like Target, BestBuy and some other major corporation. I have visited the profiles of those people no more than once and have no real interest in what they like whatsoever.

Facebook must be desperate for ad impressions. I too unliked nearly everything and experience a tinges of irritation every time the mobile app "so and so likes this major corporation" stuff shows up in the mobile feed.

In comparison, Twitter's ad platform is subtle, engaging, and visually beautiful.

Facebook is going to spam your friends regardless of whether you "Like" anything. My policy right now is to "Like" things that I think are worthy of attention, and which I'm not embarrassed to be associated with. Not that Facebook will suggest them to anyone without getting paid, but I might as well help some good people get value for their advertising dollar.

It really does suck that Facebook is spamming our friends in our name, though. Perhaps you're right, and it's best not to "Like" anything, so my friends don't associate my name with the annoying intrusion of commercial messages into their news feed.

If you don't "Like" anything, what would they spam your friends about, in your name? (Maybe it's obvious from my question that I don't use Facebook.)

Nothing, which is why you might want to avoid the "Like" button. You can choose between not "Like"-ing anything, to avoid your name showing up on spam, or you can "Like" worthwhile, interesting things, so your friends' spam is marginally more interesting.

That stops me spamming my friends but it doesn't stop my friends spamming me.

Seems pretty simple to me. Put one of those info banners at the top of everyone's Facebook feed (like they did to say "I voted" during the election) that gives you the option of either opting-in to ads (and ads to friends) or paying a fee to use Facebook.

A year or so ago I came to this same realization and removed all but a handful of likes. There's no point in most of the things people like. Yes, liking can be used for signaling but beyond that it's pointless.

...for now. They can possibly scan your posts/shared urls, like "Galaxy S3 rocks" or whatever, and put that as a sponsored story instead.

I like this.

>> This has to stop. There has to be a setting to turn this shit off.

You can put a stop to all of this by deleting your Facebook account. It is the nuclear option, but it's one that more and more of my friends (tech geeks - so who cares, right?) are doing.

I think the real problem here is headlines like this. OP's blog post title says "I don't like NEST" this is a problem for their brand and all the other companies that support Facebook's business model. If they start leaving because Facebook's UX opacity hurts their brand more than it helps, then it's lights out.

tech geeks - so who cares, right?

If I said you could mitigate the issue by selling your computer and getting a feature phone, I would be right. But you would probably protest that there are many useful things you need a computer for -- and some of them might not be strictly necessary to your life, or strictly require a computer to do, but the convenience and satisfaction it would bring make it worth having one.

In other words, don't throw out the baby with the bathwater, right? Same thing applies for most people and their Facebook account. So your only argument here is to convince people that they don't draw as much satisfaction from Facebook as they think they do, or that they don't need an account for the reasons they think they do.

Which might be true, but quite simply, people want not merely to survive but to thrive.

Edit: and also, you are in the unenviable position of arguing with people about what they feel, which means you are wrong.

I'm more than a little concerned that this is not the default answer to this question. While Nest certainly shared blame in choosing FB as their partner in advertising, I think the real problem is the FB only cares about advertising.

I'm amazed at the number of people that I hear complain about this stuff and yet keep using FB as if it is essential. For instance, add your cell # to your account to confirm developer status and then turn off notices. You will still receive texts from FB because they don't give a damn.

For the life of me, why people willingly give so much of their information to a company who clearly does not care about privacy is beyond me.

Why wouldn't Nest advertise to friends of people who like (and possibly own) Nest? If you were installed as their chief marketing officer, where would you advertise the thermostat?

As much as it's good to "fight the good fight" against FaceBook, it's fast becoming an expected means of communicating. Believe me, I deleted mine years ago and finally had to come back because I realized I was actually hindered in real ways by not having an account.

I personally think FaceBook will reach an inflection point where public interest will wane and people will use it less and less... but still have accounts. Then something better will come along and there might be a mass migration. For now though, the reality is it's somewhat essential.

In what way were you hindered? I deleted mine years ago and the only downside is that I occasionally can't see a photo album someone sends me. It's not like photos only exist on Facebook.

I can't speak for other people, but the effort it took to maintain a Facebook presence (deidentify unflattering photos, take a few minutes every day to get caught up on people's minutiae) was far greater than the benefit it brought me.

People who want to talk to me know my email address and phone number.

(edit: clarification, first paragraph)

Well, that's exactly it. Everyone else seemed to "be in the loop" compared to me. People don't always think to mass-email a silly picture of their baby or their latest comment on world news, but those are things I definitely appreciate being able to see. Sure, I might not care what they had for breakfast that day, but it sure is nice to know how my friend's trip to Costa Rica was. Basically FaceBook is its own layer in my social network, and not having an account was ostracizing me.

To me, it's analogous to the argument against text messaging. Yes, people who want to talk to me can simply call, but there's a bottom threshold of importance that must be met to deem a phone call necessary. Meanwhile I can text a one sentence message to a friend I haven't seen in months and not spend half an hour on the phone.

I'm keeping my account because it's the tool 90% of my friends - including my wife - use to plan social activities. I can see which events I'm invited to, and who's coming over to our house next saturday for dinner.

We could use Google calendar for this, or any number of other tools, but that would put a burden on our other friends to learn a new system. The end result would be that some people would flat out not attend the event, and some others would attend but not RSVP, throwing off guest counts, etc.

Does facebook really provide that much value add over a simple email invite? Every response you get can go into a special folder for that party. When the party is over, you delete the folder - or leave it - maybe even put it in an "old parties" folder.

Using facebook for events provides a few benefits over email: 1. You don't need to know your friends' email address 2. You can add pictures/video from the event 3. It automatically generates maps, directions. 4. People not interested in getting emails every time someone responds with "I'll bring the salsa!" can choose not to get notified.

Far too much work. The whole point of a facebook event is to be rid of the organizational administration and to be able to discover events your friends go to / invite you to in a central place.

For some people, Facebook is their primary means of communicating online.

I still have an account but don't login (maybe used it once in the last few months). Before that I only accessed it in an Incognito tab and before that I had the Facebook Disconnect extension running so that I don't see any Like widgets around the web. It's not easy, but it is possible to contain Facebook.

tl;dr I treat Facebook like a virus that is infecting the web.

That's definitely a concern, since I don't like FB much as a company. Thankfully, this hasn't happened in my social circles yet and it doesn't appear that it ever will at this point.

Yeah, I'd like to nuke it, but there's so many things on there that family and friends post that I'd never get anywhere else. The photos of my 2 year old niece. The articles my friends only post there.

Years ago I created http://tgethr.com so I could hopefully get my family just posting/emailing these things around privately. It turned out super useful, but a private network like that just doesn't stick too long. And most of the photos/links/articles just end up on FB.

> You can put a stop to all of this by deleting your Facebook account.

How is this any different than deleting all of your email accounts and acting like that IS the solution to spam?

Facebook is a product. Email is a protocol.

Are you saying that boycotting Facebook is not a solution to Facebook stepping all over privacy? What are we supposed to do? Use harsh language?

Not that it matters what it is, but I said email accounts. I might use multiple protocols to send and receive my email messages, but it doesn't really distinguish it from the stack of protocols that Facebook is based on either.

> Are you saying that boycotting Facebook is not a solution to Facebook stepping all over privacy?

A boycott wasn't actually the suggested course of action by the OP. They made a different point: opt-out of the system to protect your own privacy. You are suggesting collective action to promote change which is quite different. As an individual, quitting facebook isn't really equivalent to a boycott.

"E-mail" doesn't send spam. Individuals or organizations spam you via "e-mail". With Facebook, violating your privacy or shoving ads into your news feed is up to Facebook itself.

Maybe boycott is the wrong term, but it's what I think of when people say "vote with your dollars". Quitting Facebook is essentially denying them an audience and additional personal information. It may not be collective action, but it's still expressing an opinion on Facebook's service and policies.

This is a really really valid point. This is a HUGE problem, believe me. In fact, here's what happened to me - I got notified in my feed that a friend of mine kept liking her ex-boyfriend's music page, and I got this continuously, consistently for several weeks in my feed. After a while, I got pissed off, sent her a long E-mail , advising her to forget the past and move on. At that time, I didn't know Facebook was the culprit. She naturally was shocked+agitated and defended herself after which I thought she was lying and deleted her from my list. Today, we both are no longer friends. All thanks to Facebook. So, atleast in my case, it did more harm than good.

If you stopped being friends (I assume you mean real friends, not FB friends) with someone because of a single FB like you couldn't have been very good friends to begin with.

No you didn't get it, I stopped being her friend not because of the like, but because I thought she was lying, as I had data that spoke exactly the opposite of what she said.

That's not facebook's fault. You just handled it incompetently. The way you brought it up would turn anybody off, facebook or no facebook

When you believe Facebook is more trustworthy than your own friend, it's really "all thanks to you".

We live in a data-driven age. When I had data that testified against her, I couldn't really do much. But, your point is valid.

You're allowing an advertising firm to mediate your interactions with a real human being.

Too late to 'pologize?

Actually, I just sent her this link and patched up :D

That warms my heart!

> She naturally was shocked+agitated and defended herself after which I thought she was lying and deleted her from my list.

at this point, i don't think the problem was "all thanks to facebook"!

I started to see this slippery slope about a year ago, saw my name (and face!) appearing in advertisements on friends feeds, saw messages from me appearing in my friends feeds without me being (totally) aware I was about to spam them, saw timelines of my entire life with pictures that other people had taken and I was only vaguely aware I had noted I was in them.

I just deleted my facebook account.

With the exception of technical friends who have children, and are trying to find an easy way to share pictures with the grand-parents/inlaws/family, the majority of my colleagues in the valley have just stopped using, and in many cases, have deleted their facebook account.

End of problem. No more intrusions of this kind.

Not the solution for everyone, but it's a pretty straightforward mechanism to eliminate this problem, and, in my case, really cost me nothing.

Now, if I had to delete my Amazon account to avoid those tracking ads, that would be a whole new level of pain. I don't know if I'm ready to do that, yet.

Agreed. The social ads, creepy frictionless sharing, the history of privacy issues, the "hidden options" UX, the lack of anonymity, and the lack of support for multiple facets to our identities -- these issues all combined together made me deactivate my account.

I'm still trying it out to see if I can live without it for a year. But I'm hoping to delete it altogether.

I made it about 10 months before I caved in and recreated an account. It's so ingrained with my family and friends. But, just don't log in and cancel all the email notifications, works pretty well.

I've had friends say "oh we forgot to invite you to the party because you weren't on Facebook." I'm glad of the friends that use evite.

I'd seriously find some new friends.

The solution in this post doesn't work. It just changes your settings for the ads on the right. Not the ones in your feed.

Exactly right. Here's a Facebook help page of interest:

"Can I opt out of being featured in Sponsored Stories?" http://www.facebook.com/help/173332702723681/

How long before Twitter goes the same route? You are asking for people to follow you "safely" on Twitter. Don't hold your breath, you have not seen the future, nobody has.

These are the reasons I don't click on Like anywhere, certainly not on brands.

Facebook has been a mess since they have introduced the promoting stories. They have even added an additional Page Feed, which in my case, has been sitting idle gathering unread counts.

Update: IMHO, the best is to use Facebook publicly in a read-only mode. If you must follow the updates from someone, follow their RSS from their website or their email newsletter, they must have one or the other, or else they are not worth it. It is also better to keep yourself logged out of Facebook when you don't need to use it. Twitter is not that bad right now but it still shoots spam messages with bad links without you knowing about it. So your actions or inaction on any social media can directly or indirectly affect your relationship with your friends/contact.

Wow, I thought when I opted out of having my names next to ads that I wouldn't show up in the sponsored stories of people, either, but apparently that's completely different, and I can't turn it off. (see: http://www.facebook.com/help/173332702723681/)

Is there an easy way to "un-like" everything? Facebook automatically made me "like" everything that I had on my interests a long time back, and now that's turning me into an advertising icon for those brands to my friends? No thanks. So do I have to go through each one individually, or is there some way I can get rid of all these "likes" at once?

"I was actually experimenting with how these “like gates”, as they’re called, work because for my own company we were also playing with creating tools to encourage people to like someone’s Facebook page."

Sounds a little hypocritically for criticising facebook about these dirty tricks and then building a business around them. That feeling you get when you see these adverts with your name on? That's the same feeling I get when I'm forced to unnaturally 'like' something on facebook in order to see something else.

Sorry if I made the timing not clear. It definitely would be hypocritical if I was building this business after I wrote this post.

I had no idea these sponsored posts ended up in people's timelines in such a way no one could tell what's real and what's bullshit. I stopped development on any "like-gating" tech over a year ago for a bunch of reasons. The tech is still up on a website in demo mode, but I don't sell it anymore or intend to revisit selling it again. I wouldn't want to work on encouraging likes again if this sponsored post thing continues to be used like I describe in this post.

As soon as they insisted that one's likes be(come) public, I decided that that was the end of that (for me, at least).

Remember: Likes (or whatever they used to be called back then, e.g. items listed on your profile) used to be content you could restrict to your friends. Pointers for them to stuff you found cool and interesting. Then FB assigned them to the "forced to be public" part of your profile. Now, eventually, they've become primarily a vehicle for 1) Gaming people to participate (self-serving contests), in order to 2) Spam their graph.

Likes no longer represent user-generated content.

When it comes down to making money, FaceBook is acting exactly like every other big media & communications company: they are doing everything in their power to extract economic rents, to the extent permitted by law, so long as it doesn't annoy or push away too many customers. This isn't really news.

Blanket cynicism doesn't add anything to the discussion.

moultano: my comment was not meant to be cynical; I'm sorry if it came across that way. In hindsight, I could and probably should have worded it differently.

My main point: this is not an isolated incident of FaceBook pushing the boundaries of what's considered acceptable by users to make money; there have been other such incidents in the past. Given the history, should we really be surprised?

If they're toeing the line of acceptability, they're bound to cross over it at some point. This is a discussion about how one user thinks they've crossed that line, what effects that might have on their business and their users and customers, and what can be done to bring it back into line.

Must every article and discussion be about something "surprising"? Meta-discussions like this are dull; if you're uninterested in an article, ignore it.

This! My fb news feed is heavily spammed by products a few of my friends 'liked'.

Making the situation worse:

- Some ads, one example for me is TD Bank, are shown repeatedly and redundantly months after months. You'd think they would know I am not interested by now.

- On 4.7" screen phone, these are almost full screen ads.

- I'm pretty sure the people who 'liked' these companies aren't aware they are continuously spamming me.

I usually don't mind a few ads if it will pay for a free service and when they are well targeted I might even click on them. Just the other day, a fb ad reminded me to go to a delicious local burger place I don't enjoy nearly often enough. However the current level of ad aggressivity is way past the limit of what is acceptable.

Amazing to me how many people bitch and whine about a free service. If you paid for Facebook access then it would be completely understandable, but you don't. So change the settings or go to Google+ (if that's still around).

I hardly go on Facebook anymore mostly because of all the advertisements that get interleaved into the news stream. It's definitely a case of, if you don't like it then don't use it. There is no one forcing you to use Facebook and if they have a user base that is willing to put up with an Ad supported experience then so be it. AdBlock helps a lot in keeping at least the right hand ads to a minimum. It's funny going on a friends computer who doesn't have AdBlock and being surprised at the amount of advertising on Facebook. As an aside, I love my Nest thermostat.

Wow. You can't opt out. That's pretty disgusting. http://www.facebook.com/help/173332702723681/

Massive overreaction. It's very obvious that these news feed posts are sponsored. It clearly says so. 99% of users won't even notice this or care.

An interesting wrinkle on this was the recent Presidential election in the US. Some of my contacts "Liked" Romney's or Paul Ryan's page (or both) Every 3rd or 5th day they were there when I looked at my feed "Romney is great" and your 3 friends liked this etc. My first reaction was "Wow, my friends are pretty hard core Romney fans if they're liking every new post he puts up on his page" So from endorsing him once they sent the message indirectly to their friends about 8 - 12 over a two month period that they're a supporter. That's probably a lot more in your friends' face with your political belief than most realize. It's like the guy at a BBQ who casually says "I think I'm voting for Obama" vs the friend whom every time you see them in the build up to the election wants to talk about their candidate and you're voting for him right?

Related to liked pages, I've noticed a few times in the past month or two that friend's months-old status updates that have links to products on Amazon.com now re-appear in my current news feed as "sponsored posts".

So it seems like advertisers can also sponsor posts containing links to their domains to re-appear in your feed.

Ugh. So even if you don't Like anything, your shared links can become promotional stories. Terrible.

There is no word for this except spam.

I am so tired of seeing that a very weak connection has liked Samsung Mobile... every... single... freaking.... day...

As a result, I've contacted friends in the exact same manner: "Hey, can you unlike this product, I'm tired of seeing it every day for the last few months."

Why don't you use AdBlock?

And, to be honest: I don't think I'd mind as much if it wasn't the exact same ad multiple times a day, every day, for over a month

It's livable on the web. On mobile however they are effectively full page ads, and there's no way to block it.

I've always seen those like ads and wondered... why?!? I can understand liking a struggling business or artist, but in what situation does it make sense to like Visa or Walmart or Sprint or whatever? It doesn't. It should be pretty obvious that everything you do on Facebook these days will be monetized. And Facebook hits the jackpot when you explicitly state a preference for a particular corporation.

When Facebook took my comma delimited list of "interests" and turned them all into ads, I figured out Facebook had sold out. Call me melodramatic, but this was years before Zuckerberg claimed "we don’t build services to make money; we make money to build better services."

I've never been a fan of Facebooks behavior and attitude toward users. I signed up for an account a while back mainly to make it harder for anyone else to 'be' me. I watched as the privacy continually eroded. ( an excellent 2010 chart here: http://www.broadstuff.com/archives/2196-Facebooks-Privacy-Er... ) I've been forced to sort out privacy snafus several times over the years, as they added new on-by-default options that I don't want. I think it's time to leave.

I don't ever "like" major brands. But I do click like on small local businesses, or things my real-life friends are involved with. For a small business, every little bit of free promotion helps.

Why do people (professionals who are not in marketing) use Facebook?

As a user of HN, Twitter, Reddit, Google Groups, and Usenet, I honestly don't see the attraction. Seems like it is fraught with annoyances.

Facebook is where the clueless people are. Unfortunately, I love quite a few of those clueless people - so I join them where they are.

When all your friends decide to meet at that fake corporate fac-simile of a cliché pub, you go there too because you like your friends and might meet some nice girl there too. You may suggest a place with beer that does not taste like llama piss, but you drink that beer with a smile anyway because in the end it is all about people, even with stupid UI, satanic EULA and sprawling ads.

I agree with the gist of your sentiment, but I wouldn't call them "clueless" - maybe unaware, or unconcerned.

"HN, Twitter, Reddit, Google Groups, and Usenet"

Many of these examples tend to be online communities that share the same interest as you. Sure, you can probably configure your own Google Group (i guess?) but who's going to do that?

Facebook is mostly used by people to keep in touch with their offline community - their real-life friends.

Because life ?

Sounds like you're happy where you are. Plenty of people's social presence is only Facebook, so the only way to keep abreast is through it.

This kind of crap is why I unliked everything I possibly could, and then created LikeBuster. I don't want people getting the wrong idea about me because of an ad I didn't actually promote. I honestly think Facebook makes everyone they use for their ad platform look foolish, and I'd prefer not to see my friends insulted like that.

There are Chrome and Firefox add-ons for LikeBuster linked at https://github.com/relwell/LikeBuster.

Good post, as someone who occasionally uses promoted posts, it made me realize it is a little weird to target friends of fans, which I believe is the FB default.

I was under the impression that these were the user-facing side of Promoted Posts that go to friends of friends. So I see that one of my friends liked the GRE several times. But I also see "Sponsored Story" under that line, so I ignore it and blame the page itself. On the iOS app at least, it tells me when the Like occurred, which felt a little comical when a friend's Like from 2008 gave me a Sponsored Story a couple weeks ago.

Until people start being willing to pay for services like Facebook or Twitter these kind of antics are inevitable.

Unless you're paying you're the product.

Are we the product of HN, then? Or if HN is "not the same", how are Identi.ca users its product?

It's a nice soundbite, but it's oversimplified. There are many business models, and some don't involve neither direct payments nor ads/tracking, and others have ads even when you pay (e.g. Cable TV). It's just not that simple.

You know we are a highly technical audience and YC companies can advertise jobs, etc. here, right? I think that post is right, and things like cable TV or Hulu are just squeezing some money out of their product before they pass it on.

OK, how are we Wikipedia products?

Advertising (users as products) and charging are just two characteristics that may appear in a business model together, or just one of them, or none, depending on its design. There's simply no rule that makes ¬paying ⇒ product an inevitability.

Isn't it my attention that's the product?

Thank you. Been saying that for years.

Did Facebook change something related to the use of Likes recently? They just managed to tick me off this morning. My nephew's like of a product showed up as an advert for me - and I'm sure he didn't know this was happening.

Between this and their social plugin (I've tried disabling this many times), I am a hair away from disabling my account.

Facebook likes have been showing up on advertisements for years. The fact that they're in the news feed now is all that's new. I've mistaken a few of these ads for new posts from friends as well, but it became immediately apparent after my friend like Samsung USA for the 2nd time that it was simply an advertisement.

I agree. They are going way to far. I don't care if they want to mislead people, but please don't do it on my behalf.

When I logged in to cancel "Ads shown by third parties" which you linked to, I had a new notification (normally reserved for my friends information) which was a Groupon of the Day. WTF? Seems like two sinking ships.

With gmail you have a marketplace. Gmail might be nice, but email is a protocol and you can take your business elsewhere. Not so with facebook. They've built what's essentially treated as a protocol, but it's completely under their control. Clearly, this makes it rife for what we might perceive as abuse.

This is an unfortunate title. It should read: "Facebook Pages: Why I don't like things anymore". There are going to be more than a few people who might have been on the fence about buying a Nest thermostat and will make a snap judgement based on this title.

Maybe they should stop advertising with Facebook?

I learned recently that legally, "liking" something on Facebook is considered an endorsement of that product or service. I'm sure the law still needs to catch up to technology, but this news stopped all my "liking" activities.

What does it mean to "legally" endorse a product or service? What are the legal consequences of this? I've never heard of this concept.

I've removed all my likes to try and clean up my news feed, though my facebook profile still says I still have 110 'likes' , I'm guessing those are websites without a facebook page and I've no idea how to remove those.

this is why i only "like" something by consciously posting about it in my status via a link to product or article. i always found those "like" buttons to be completely moronic and entirely out of my control.

businesses have recently been complaining about facebook forcing them to pay to reach their 'likers', but this is the flip side. I'm seeing more and more sponsored stories about things my friends like, and not seeing the updates from the pages i really do want to see. even in 'most recent' view, facebook fails to show me updates from the pages i have explicitly told it to put in my news feed. which means i'm going to get those updates by other means. which means i'm going to use facebook less.

Facebook should offer an ad-free membership level for a monthly or yearly fee, or give people the option to ignore/hide "Likes" from showing up in their newsfeed.

I think they've figured out that you as a user is worth X amount more to advertisers than you're probably willing to pay a year. Would most people be willing to pay $100 a year if that is what you are worth to Facebook's advertisers?

People who have $100/year to drop on facebook are also people with enough disposable income to be worth advertising to.

Great description of what really happens in these situations. Scary.

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