According to Mashable, Facebook is rolling out Sponsored Stories, a new ad format that turns your friends’ actions into promoted content http://mashable.com/2011/01/25/facebook-sponsored-stories/. The question is if these new promotion opportunities are harming Facebook’s relationship with users? I think they are moving dangerously close to crossing that fine line.
The problem from my point of view is that Sponsored Stories enables companies and brands to piggy bag ride on personal statement from one user to another – thereby making the user vouch for the brand. Your permission has been given at an earlier stage for example by accepting a custom app of a brand or when posting on the walls of a favorite brand. In other words, interacting with or liking a brand on Facebook suddenly comes with a lot more strings attached than before. As a user you can no longer as easily control your level of engagement with the brand.
According to the article the most noteworthy thing about the new format is that “The user defines the advertised content in Facebook’s format, not the advertiser.” – but who says users want to define advertised content to begin with?