Hey everyone! Get ready for your close up – effective September 5, Facebook is ready to make you a star in commercials whether you want to be or not.
Facebook proposed a change to its Data Use Policy (PDF) yesterday that scrubs a sentence saying you can “use your privacy settings to limit how your name and profile picture may be associated with commercial, sponsored, or related content (such as a brand you like) served or enhanced by us.” It has now been replaced by a sentence that says, well ... precisely the opposite.
“You give us permission to use your name and profile picture, content, and information in connection with commercial, sponsored, or related content (such as a brand you like),” reads the new text. “This means, for example, that you permit a business or other entity to pay us to display your name and/or profile picture with your consent or information, without any compensation to you.”
If you have kids who use Facebook, their likeness can be used in ads too. “If you are under the age of eighteen (18) … you represent that at least one of your parents or legal guardians has also agreed to the terms of this section (and the use of your name, profile, picture, content, and information) on your behalf.”
Just this Monday, U.S. District Judge Richard Seeborg ruled that Facebook must pay out $20 million over Sponsored Stories – that is, using people’s names and likenesses in advertisements without their consent. For the duration of the court case, it was possible for Facebook users to opt out of being used in ads. Now that the case is settled, it appears as though Facebook wants to make sure there’s no way to escape being used in a Sponsored Story-type ad short of deleting your account on the site.
Of course, wholesale profile deletion isn’t really an option for many people. Still, you can throw a wrench in Facebook advertising plans by scrubbing your page of likes for commercial products.
To review what you’ve liked in the past, visit your Facebook Timeline page and click the button that reads “Activity Log.” Choose “Likes” in the left-hand menu, then choose the new Pages and Interests option in the left-hand menu to narrow down your list. You’ll be able to review each and every like you’ve made in the past. Click the gray pencil icon to the right of each like and choose “Unlike” for each commercial entity you’d prefer not use your name in an advertisement for their product or service.
If you would like to express your displeasure at these changes, Facebook has opened up a discussion at its Site Governance page. Otherwise, the company plans on making the proposed changes effective next Thursday.
Facebook has not yet responded to a request for comment on this story.
For more on how to limit what Facebook activity of yours other people see, check out Techlicious’s Guide to Facebook Privacy Settings.
UPDATE (9/4): Facebook has responded to this story, stating that though the language in their Data Use Policy has changed, the ability to opt out of being used in ads is not going away on Thursday.
"We simplified the explanation to make clear how advertising works on Facebook and what exactly people can expect when it comes to how we use their name, profile picture, content and personal information," a spokesperson from Facebook told Techlicious. "Nothing about the choices people have, such as the the option to opt out of the pairing of social actions with ads or the ability to specify the audience for sharing content or information, has changed."
The good news here is that "opt out" is not going away in the short term. The bad news is that being able to "opt out" no longer appears to be a right you have as a Facebook user and is something Facebook can now change their mind on at any time without having a requirement to notify you. As we've seen, when Facebook's hands aren't tied, the company tends to do some really unfortunate things with advertising.
If you're interested in opting out of being used in ads on Facebook, you can review your Facebook ad settings here.