Facebook still uses you to sell ads, even without sponsored stories

Facebook recently announced that it has stopped allowing users and brands to create new sponsored stories. Instead, it requires brands and users to purchase ads to promote themselves.

[M]arketers will no longer be able to purchase sponsored stories separately; instead, social context — 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.

This sounds like Facebook has shifted away from explicitly using social actions as advertising tools but what Facebook is doing is possibly an expansion of the sponsored stories model in a different guise. As ReadWriteWeb points out

But Facebook’s new wording—social context—eliminates all phrasing alluding to advertising, potentially leading to more confusion. At least with sponsored stories, one could deduce that “sponsored” means “paid for,” thus, users would recognize their likenesses being used in ads.

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p>This isn’t a new approach to social advertising. It is a variation of what Facebook has been doing for some time. Facebook users’ personal information is still very much a part of Facebook’s advertising model.

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