Sponsored Stories are a way for advertisers to take your actions on Facebook and pay to share them with the world. Naturally, though, companies are uninterested in your old photos and mundane updates – they’re only interested in promoting when you check in to businesses like Starbucks, or otherwise Like their pages. For a few pennies each, a corporation can make sure all your friends know that you Like Twinkies, Nutella, Ford vehicles or anything else you’ve ever shared on Facebook involving a corporate brand. Advertisers know your friends value your opinions, so they’re willing to spend money to make your favorable opinions on their brands better known, even if it causes you great personal embarrassment.
Don’t go hitting your favorite brands with a flurry of Likes just yet, though: Sponsored Stories, like a bad rash, aren’t actually going away entirely. “Sponsored stories as an idea doesn’t go away. Sponsored stories as a product goes away,” explained Facebook Product Marketing Director Brian Boland to Ad Age.
Instead of Sponsored Stories, Facebook will now offer a more comprehensive type of ad. The fact that you Like McDonald’s may be featured, but it’ll be mentioned at the bottom of a larger ad to add “social context." Ultimately, this change could make your actions on Facebook even more valuable to advertisers, so if you value your privacy, now is the time to take action. There’s no way to stop seeing your friends used as advertising fodder (short of sharing this news, naturally), but you can stop Facebook from using your own name and likeness to sell third-party products. Check out our Comprehensive Guide to Facebook Privacy Settings to learn how to opt out.