Facebook Uses Your Likes to Promote Porn to Your Friends

facebook failIn the last few month I’ve been critical of Facebook because of moves they’ve made to increase revenue at the expense of user experience. Well, now they seem to have hit a new low: promoting porn to your friends while claiming it’s “related to” something you like.

As if it wasn’t bad enough when Facebook…

Craig Condon showed in this article & video how Facebook is now taking the things users have “liked” in the past and promoting things it considers “related to” those things in a deceptive way that could easily be misunderstood by a person’s friends as an endorsement.

In this first screen capture you can see how a friend who had liked the “Hennigin Theater Trust” appeared to be endorsing the Book of Mormon though it was subtly labeled as a sponsored and “related post.”

facebook deceptive related posts 1

This second screen capture shows how a friend who had “liked” the site Vice was used to promote a “related post” about a producer of pornographic movies.

facebook deceptive related posts 2

You will never know

You will never know if Facebook decides to promote a “related post” to your friends unless one of your friends asks you about it.

Condon writes, “Most individuals have no idea this is happening. Any post made by Facebook on your behalf is completely invisible to you, and only shows up in your friends’ & family’s news feed.”

“This goes beyond just advertising on a user’s behalf. My friends & family might think I like inappropriate content, or information I don’t agree with—it can damage relationships. In fact, I’m only familiar with this issue because a friend asked if I liked _____. What else has Facebook posted on my behalf that I don’t agree with? What has Facebook posted on your behalf that you don’t agree with?”

Facebook will probably try to defend this tactic by saying the content is labelled as “related,” but many Facebook users are not going to notice or understand this distinction when skimming their newsfeed. And whether a “related” post is really related is debatable and solely up to Facebook’s revenue-chasing staff to decide.

Thanks to Ken Manesse for sharing this story in the Christian Micro-Entrepreneurs Facebook group.

Discuss:

  • Have you seen “related posts” in your newsfeed?
  • What do you think about this latest move by Facebook?  Is it enough to cause you to leave the social network?
  • Can you think of anything else we can do about this other than warn our friends and consider leaving FB?

Paul Steinbrueck is co-founder and CEO of OurChurch.Com, elder of CypressMeadows.org, husband, father of 3, blogger. You can follow him on Twitter at @PaulSteinbrueck and add him to your circles at Google+ as +Paul Steinbrueck.

6 Responses to “Facebook Uses Your Likes to Promote Porn to Your Friends”

  1. Posted on my FB wall- Thanks for the information Paul. That has to change.

    • PaulSteinbrueck Jan 24, 2013 at 3:59 pm

      Thanks for spreading the word. If you've got any ideas for anything we could do to try to motivate Facebook to change this (other than leaving), let me know.

  2. You can opt out of being used in ads by going to the settings icon in the top right corner, select account settings. Then click on the "ads" option on the left and Edit "Ads and Friends". Scroll to bottom of the page and select "no one". You might also want to edit the setting for Third Party Sites while you're there.

    • PaulSteinbrueck Jan 25, 2013 at 8:39 am

      Hey Andra, thanks for pointing out this option with respect to ads. However, I don't believe that setting applies to the "related posts" tactic described in this blog post. Forbes published an article about this and in it the author wrote:

      "unlike Facebook Ads that you can opt out of sharing the liking of with friends, or the sponsored stories that you can’t opt out of but at least are mentioned in Facebook’s Help Center, Related Posts are a completely undocumented feature."
      http://www.forbes.com/sites/anthonykosner/2013/01

  3. Facebook is now beholden to their stockholders. That means they need to generate revenue. Unfortunately, that also means they're going to use as many under-handed techniques as possible to increase profits. Despite its ubiquity, it might be time to consider abandoning the platform.

    • PaulSteinbrueck Jan 28, 2013 at 4:36 pm

      Hey John, I definitely think going public has changed Facebook, but I don't think it has too. Southwest Airlines is a publicly traded company, and yet they aren't sticking it to their customers with change fees and bag fees. The ironic thing is I believe these underhanded means of increasing revenue are going to end up driving people away from FB and costing them revenue in the end.

      I agree that it's time to at least consider an exit strategy from FB. I've thought about it. And while I've decided I'm not going to abandon it yet, I am putting more time and effort into G+. There may come a time when my interactions on G+ surpass FB and eventually make FB irrelevant just as happened when FB made MySpace irrelevant.