Facebook Phail?  

Posted by Laya in

Wow. I'd already been getting really peeved with the Facebook ads appearing on my profile and in my apps. Then I read this:

Change Your Facebook Settings Or Else
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Imagine your husband is on his Facebook profile one day, and he spots this ad for "hot singles in your area."

Now imagine that the face in the ad is your face.


Don't get me wrong, I love Facebook. Once you get the hang of it, it's really quite ingenious, and addicting. Except for those ads.

My original peeve was with those ads I keep seeing all the time, every time I use a Facebook app. They look like inboxes with notifications, saying "You have (5) unread messages." Or, worse, they would flash urgently saying "Inbox full! You have (7) unread messages." Then a little pop-up would say "5 of your friends in (my location) think you're cute."

Thinking it was a notification from an app that I had forgotten about, I initially clicked on it and was surprised when it took me off the site instead, to the registration page for what looked like the game Travian, although it was not in English.

Since I cannot appreciate Travian and have no time for prolonged online gaming now, I closed that tab.

The ad, though, kept showing up. And flashing. The next week it said "3 of your friends in (my location) are secretly in love with you!" I didn't bite.

Then it began to pile on the negativity.

"5 of your friends secretly think you're dumb!" "3 of your friends think you're stupid!" "2 of your friends think you're lazy!"

The effect was akin to having a troll live in my Facebook account and taunt me everytime I moved around the site.

So I e-mailed Facebook to ask them to remove it.

"To whom it may concern:

I am always seeing a certain Facebook ad whenever I use apps. At first it was saying "Two of your friends in (my location) think you are nice. Click here to find out!" I was curious so I clicked it, thinking it was a Facebook app of some kind. However, it led me to a certain site that was not in English, although it looked like that game Travian. I was not interested, so I closed the tab.

The ad, however, still kept on showing up, at the right side of the apps or games when I'm using them. The text changed to "(A number) of your friends in (my location) are secretly in love with you." Later, it became "(A number) of your friends in (my location) think you're stupid." Today, just before I wrote this email, I saw it and it said "(A number) of your friends in (my location) think you're dumb."

This ad is not only misleading, it is offensive. First of all, it links to something that is totally unrelated to what it says.Secondly, it seems to promote a stalker mentality and feeds on people's paranoias, in that it assumes there will be someone who is all too glad to know what negative things other people are saying about them. And thirdly, it is becoming insulting. Each time I see it, and the more I don't click on it, the more it seems to be taunting the person seeing it that they may be "stupid" or "dumb" if they don't click on it.

For the reasons mentioned above, please remove and BAN this ad. It is getting to be very irritating. Thank you."

I was instead directed to the on-site forms for reporting ads.

So I filled out a form.

After a week, I received a polite e-mail saying that the ad in question was in the applications I used.

"Thanks for reporting this ad. It sounds like the ad you're describing was served through a Facebook application, and not through Facebook itself. Because of this, Facebook isn't able to further investigate or take action on this particular ad. You can report concerns you have about the content or behavior of any Facebook application directly to the developer of that application by going to the application's About page and clicking "Report Application" at the bottom of the page, or by clicking "Report" at the bottom of any canvas page within the application.

You may also want to view or adjust your application privacy settings at http://www.facebook.com/privacy/?view=platform&tab=other. Unless an application has been authorized by you or your friends, Facebook allows it to access only the information that is available in your public search listing (your name, networks, profile picture, and friend list). To control how the above information is distributed to Applications, please visit the Search Privacy page at http://www.facebook.com/privacy/?view=search.

Please let us know if you have additional questions or concerns.

Thanks for contacting Facebook,

Online Sales Operations

Excuse me, guys, but isn't that akin to telling me I will now have to report every single Facebook app I use that carries the ad? Because I see it in almost all of them. I can just see every other user of that app getting mad at me for interrupting their gameplay.

And I really couldn't see the relevance of the second paragraph until I read Cheryl Smith's post. You know the feeling of suddenly having been whupped in the face with something that suddenly came out of nowhere?

It was like, holy guacamole... how many Facebook ads with my face in it have people probably been seeing?

Holy hell, people who don't even know me might be seeing my face in there and later come across my profile and somehow think that I was looking for something that I wasn't.

Facebook, I love you, but this sneaky, underhanded sort of advertising simply must stop, for the reasons already mentioned above. You are abusing the trust of your users by using their faces and personal information for your ads without their knowledge and consent. Even if you might cover your asses by pointing out that we could stop ourselves appearing in these ads by changing our Facebook settings, well, I didn't even know that I could be appearing in those ads, so I would not know of the need to change those settings.

Moreover, there's this little thing called truth in advertising, right? And you're putting words in people's mouths that many of them might not have said, had they been asked about it. Heck, you're even putting people in this ads who would not have consented had they known they were to be in them.

Those little irritating ads in the apps are also very misleading. They make us think they're other than what they seem. And they play on people's paranoia by somehow telling them that their friends are really dissing them behind their backs. I don't believe them because I know what they really are, but as I said, they're like trolls. And should therefore be banned.

They're misleading because they make people think they are notifications, but lead people to other sites instead. I didn't even know it was an ad for Travian until I found myself on the site. Another version of that I clicked even brought me to an online gambling site. Again, the operative word is MISLEADING. Truth in advertising, right?

Facebook, I'm talking to you.

This entry was posted at Thursday, July 16, 2009 and is filed under . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .

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