I got back from Tech to find an email from one of my coworkers entitled: Last night Facebook blew my mind. It was about his first encounter with FB Social Ads. For those who haven’t encountered it yet, FB is now using your fan status and friend lists to create REALLY targeted ads. For instance, if I were a fan of Dell and you were a friend of mine, you might log in to see an ad indicating that Elizabeth Weaver Engel is a fan of Dell Deals. It appears that FB rolled this out around the holidays (although it was in the works for a while). A vigorous debate ensued on the Beaconfire !chat email channel, with people evenly divided over whether seeing that a friend had endorsed (wittingly or not) a product or service would make us *more* likely to purchase that product or service, or whether it would TOTALLY creep you out.
In the end, as with most things FB, it is possible to turn it off (Settings –> Privacy Settings –> News Feed & Wall –> Social Ads), but also as with most things FB, the default setting is to allow it. And they weren’t terribly public about the whole thing (check that 1 am timestamp).
And, as my colleague pointed out:
It was easy enough to click to become a fan of Dell computers. However, it gives me no way to “un-fan” myself, or to opt out of any advertising.
And at no point did it say, “we’ll be using your name and profile image to sell Dell computers to your friends.”
What’s the lesson for associations? It’s all about permissions, baby, and don’t assume you have them if you don’t ask.