Facebook to put ‘sponsored stories’ in your News Feed

21 Dec 2011

Social networking giant Facebook has confirmed it plans to place sponsored stories from brands in its News Feed.

The move will be particularly beneficial to Facebook from a mobile perspective, enabling its 350m-strong smartphone audience (out of a total user base of more than 800m) worldwide to see brands on their devices.

“Starting early next year, we will gradually begin showing Sponsored Stories in News Feed,” a spokesperson told Siliconrepublic.com.

“Our goal is to do this thoughtfully and slowly. We hope to show people no more than one Sponsored Story in their News Feeds per day and the story will be clearly labelled,” she said.

By way of explanation, Facebook said the Sponsored Stories are regular stories that people may see in their News Feed already, but the exception will be that a marketer has paid to feature its posts in News Feeds.

Facebook said that in terms of privacy, users will only see stories about people and pages they have already connected to.

It emphasised that people will have full control over whether these Sponsored Stories will appear in News Feed stories.

“This is simply a distribution mechanism for these stories that you already choose to share with your Friends. No one can alter the content of that story in any way. It is identical to News Feed.

“If you don’t want to share a News Feed story with your friends, you have, and have always had, a variety of controls at your disposal. For example, you can decide not to take an action (eg, check in to Starbucks), you can remove the story from your profile, you can set you settings so the story is only visible to a certain subset of people (including only you),” Facebook said.

In related news, Facebook has become embroiled in a class-action suit over the use of users’ profiles in adverts on the social network, according to the Daily Telegraph.

A group has been granted permission by a US court to progress a case that accuses Facebook of exploiting their preferences on the site for commercial gain without their permission.

They claim that if a user clicks a ‘Like’ button on a brand on the site, the social network can use the image and name of that person in an advert endorsing the same company.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years