Noticed by Ed Bott at ZDNet this week, Facebook has started using page likes to promote popular posts from that page within the News Feed. Simply put, Facebook is automatically inserting a post in the News Feed created by a brand page that you like and all of your friends will see the post as if you shared the content. While the formatting doesn’t specifically point out that a Facebook user promoted the content with a like or a share, it does point out that the Facebook user is endorsing the brand page that created the post.
Arguably, the design of this type of post has been formatted to appear as if the user is endorsing any message that a brand or organization promotes. The amount of potentially embarrassing situations that could result from this type of post may lead to confused or angry friends and family members that likely don’t understand the new formatting.
As pointed out by the example within the ZDNet article, this led to a user viewing a post of a couple friends endorsing Drugstore.com. Beneath the endorsement, the post created by Drugstore.com stated “Save 55% off the Date Night Gift Pack from K-Y: Including $10 off 2 movie tickets, Yours & Mine Lubes, and K-Y Touch Warming Oil,” along with a picture of the risque product.
The user told ZDNet “A colleague of mine and a friend of mine had both “liked” drugstore.com somewhere along the way. To say that my colleague and my friend were mortified would be an understatement!”
As the political election season ramps up, this new formatting will likely lead to more confusion over the endorsement of conservative or liberal ideals and policy. For instance, if a fiscally conservative, but socially liberal user that likes the GOP on Facebook may become upset if their name appears above an admonishment of Planned Parenthood.
Taking this a step further, a page like that may appear completely harmless could end up being a problem for some Facebook users. For example, a socially conservative user against gay marriage that also likes Oreo cookies may have gotten extremely upset if their name appeared over Kraft Food’s recent decision to show support for gay pride by posting a picture of a rainbow-colored Oreo cookie on Facebook. People that are also friends with co-workers on Facebook could also run into trouble in the workplace due to confusion over this new formatting.
Most importantly, this new format within the News feed is not a promoted post, a sponsored story or anything related to companies paying for Facebook advertising. This is simply how Facebook wants people to discover new pages to like.
According to an official statement released by the social network, a Facebook spokesperson stated “To help people find new Pages, events, and other interesting information, people may now see posts from a Page a friend likes. These posts will include the social context from your friends who like the Page and will respect all existing settings.”
While a Facebook user can easily opt out of having their name used within Sponsored Stories, there doesn’t appear to be a privacy setting related to this new format since it’s not classified as an advertisement. At the moment, the only way to completely eliminate the possibility of your name appearing within this formatting is to watch the News Feed for potential problems and reduce your total number of page likes.