How did your name get on a Facebook ad?

Don Dodge · July 15, 2010 · Short URL:

By clicking the 'like' button your name becomes associated with an ad for that organization

How did your name get on a Facebook advertisement? When you click on the Facebook "Like" button you could be agreeing to have your name associated with an ad from that company. The Wall Street Journal reportsthat Facebook is using the "selling power of friendship" in its ads. Unless you specifically opt out in Facebook's complicated privacy settings you could be seeing your name appear in ads seen by your friends. 

The screenshot on the right is an advertisement that appeared on the right side bar of my Facebook page. I don't normally look at those things but the WSJ story prompted me to check it our. Sure enough, there is the name of one of my friends embedded in one of the Facebook ads. Click on that innocent looking "Like" button and your name could appear on the ad too.

Check your Facebook privacy settings - I am curious about my privacy settings, especially with respect to advertising. I don't recall ever specifically making selections on these settings so perhaps the default setting is to share with "only my friends". The other option is share with "no one"...which is my new setting.

What is a platform ad? - The Facebook privacy settings get confusing pretty quickly. You need to navigate through several layers of menus and tabs to get to the right place. For advertising related privacy click on "Account" in the upper right hand corner of your Facebook Home Page. Then click on "Account Settings". Then click on the last tab "Facebook Ads". This takes you to a page that looks like this;

Third party ads
I had never seen the privacy settings for Facebook ads, and I'm not sure how it was set to allow my name to be used in ads seen by "only my friends", but that got fixed today... I think. I changed it to "no one."

But then I scrolled further down the page and ran into another setting for "my social actions in Facebook ads". Huh? Wait a minute. What is the difference between showing my name on "ads on platform pages" and showing my "social actions"? I assume clicking on a "Like" button is a social action? Here is the privacy dialog for that setting

Social ads
Once again, I changed this setting to "no one". It never occurred to me that by clicking on a Facebook "Like" button that I was implicitly agreeing to have my name associated with an advertisement for that organization.

Privacy is complicated - Privacy means different things to different people. In establishing privacy policies companies make assumptions about what people know and the behavior they expect. These assumptions can be perfectly reasonable for some people, and a total surprise to others. Finding that balance and clearly communicating the implications of a policy is very difficult.

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