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Facebook shoves your face into creepy 'sponsored stories' in 2012

A personalised ad party ... if you Like it, bitch

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Facebook will begin adding photos of its users to third-party adverts appearing in users' news feeds come early next year, so if you're the sort who's a bit free with your thumbs-up button, there's no way out of being featured alongside a tin of baked beans or a pair of knickers on the social network.

The Mark Zuckerberg-run company will set its "Sponsored Stories" feature as default for its 800 million-strong stalkerbase.

"Starting early next year, we will gradually begin showing Sponsored Stories in News Feed. Our goal is to do this thoughtfully and slowly," a Facebook spokeswoman told The Register.

"We hope to show people no more than one Sponsored Story in their News Feeds per day and the story will be clearly labelled."

The only Facebookers who will see the ads are those already connected to the individual via the network.

Zuckerberg's crew are trying to be as up front as possible about their latest efforts to squeeze more revenue juice from advertising by plonking these "stories" directly into an individual's feed.

Twitter already drops ads in between regular tweets from its userbase.

Meanwhile, LinkedIn came under fire in the summer for serving up ads via the network-for-suits and opting everyone in by default, it also tweaked its privacy policy to highlight the shift.

Sounds familiar, right?

As the tech rolled out to more LinkedIn users, the response to "social ads" was overwhelmingly negative.

As a result, LinkedIn made an embarrassing U-turn and told its users they would be able to opt out of the sponsored ads after all.

Interestingly, it failed to immediately tweak its privacy policy to reflect that sudden reversal. But it now states that users can opt out of having their faces and names displayed alongside third-party ads.

Not so with Facebook, however.

Here's what that company's data use policy currently states about "sponsored stories":

Many of the things you do on Facebook (like 'liking' a Page) are posted to your Wall and shared in News Feed. But there's a lot to read in News Feed.

That's why we allow people to 'sponsor' your stories to make sure your friends see them. For example, if you RSVP to an event hosted by a local restaurant, that restaurant may want to make sure your friends see it so they can come too.

If they do sponsor a story, that story will appear in the same place ads usually do under the heading 'Sponsored Stories' or something similar.

Only people that could originally see the story can see the sponsored story, and no personal information about you (or your friends) is shared with the sponsor.

There's also an explanation of what Facebook users can expect to see turn up on the website come early 2012.

That help page also confirms that there won't be an option to opt out of being featured in sponsored ads. But Facebook is being "thoughtful" about the entire process, so that's alright then...

It doesn't end there, mind. All Things Digital reported this week that a US district court judge dismissed Facebook's request to toss aside a class action lawsuit brought by users who are unhappy with being featured in ads on the site.

Those same users clicked on the "Like" button within Facebook, but claimed they did so to, among other things, to receive discounts for well-known brands, but not to endorse a product. It's brought the question of what "Like" actually means on the social network into play.

On the matter of the lawsuit, a Facebook spokesman responded: "We are reviewing the decision and continue to believe that the case is without merit." ®

Top three mobile application threats

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