Facebook and your face: Opting out of social ads

Yes, you can remove your face from Facebook ads. But you may not 'Like' how you have to do it.

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It isn’t often I get contacted by Facebook about my posts here at TY4NS. But it happened today when I got a call from spokesperson Brandon McCormick.

He wanted to correct a few things I got wrong in my last post (“Your face: Starring in a Facebook ad near you”), which also gave me the opportunity to grill him a bit more about Facebook’s “social” ads.

First the corrections.

Correction #1: McCormick says that, contrary to what I posted earlier this week, Facebook is not intending to allow app developers and third-party advertisers to use your face in its ads, despite the oddly worded language on its opt-out page.

facebook social ads opt out

That opt out was actually created in 2009, he says, after some third parties violated Facebook policies by scraping people’s profile photos and using them in advertisements. Facebook created the opt out to reassure users that their faces would not be used in ads served by third parties, says McCormick.

(I find this exceedingly odd – why give people an opt out for something that’s already against the rules? But whatever.)

And even though the opt out clearly says “If this is allowed in the future…” McCormick says Facebook has no current plans to allow this in the future.

Correction #2: I wrote in my post that sponsored stories started showing up on Facebook last week. In fact, McCormick says, Facebook began running these ads shortly after they were announced last January. It just may take longer for them to show up on your profile, he says, because a friend has to “Like” a product that an advertiser has paid Facebook to include in the sponsored stories program, and then you have see it.

[ See also: That new Facebook friend might just be a spy ]

McCormick did confirm users cannot opt out of sponsored story ads, which are really just Facebook’s way of monetizing the “Likes” that appear under Recent Activities in your News Feed.

“The sponsored story is basically a news feed story that's been moved to the right panel,” he says. “If you don't want that in your news feed, don't take that action. Most people who don't want other people to know the products they Like know that they should not say they Like them."

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