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Useless Warning - Facebook Will Start Using Your Photos in Ads on Friday

Rapidly circulating message warns that on Friday, Facebook will start using your photographs in ads targeting your friends.

Brief Analysis
While there is an element of truth to the message, it is nevertheless misleading and inaccurate. There are no credible reports that indicate that changes to Facebook's existing "social ads" policy are set to take place on Friday. In fact, the message is a revamped version of another spurious warning that began circulating in mid 2011 and claimed that Facebook would become owner of your images "on Friday".

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Detailed analysis and references below example.

Last updated: 6th June 2012
First published: 6th June 2012
Article written by Brett M. Christensen
About Brett Christensen and Hoax-Slayer

On Friday, Facebook will start using your photos in ads targeting your contacts and fb friends. It is legal and was mentioned to you when you open an account.

To prevent this do the following: Home -> Account Settings -> Facebook Ads (Bottom of left hand navigation panel ) -> Adverts shown by third parties -> Edit third party advert settings, then choose "No one" in the list and save the changes.

Copy or share this and please spread the word!

Detailed Analysis
According to this "warning" message, which is currently rocketing virally across Facebook, the network will start using your photographs in ads that target your friends on Friday. The message explains how to prevent this impending change and asks users to share the information as a warning to others.

However, the warning is too vague, misleading and inaccurate to have any real value.

The message refers to "Friday" as the day for the supposed change, but makes no effort to clarify WHICH Friday. In fact, versions of this silly message have already been circulating for well over a year. Many Fridays have thus come and gone with nary a sign of the changes discussed.

The way the message is worded suggests that it is referring - at least in part - to Facebook social ads, which "show an advertiser's message alongside actions you have taken, such as liking a Page". Posts that include your profile photo may be paired with an ad or highlighted in a sponsored story. But, this advertising policy is certainly not set to be launched on "Friday". In fact, it has already been in place for several years.

Moreover, the would-be warning does not offer instructions for controlling these existing social ads at all. In fact, the instructions describe how to disable a related social context advertising system that Facebook may allow at some point in the future. Following the instructions in the post opens a page with the following message:
Facebook does not give third party applications or ad networks the right to use your name or picture in ads. If we allow this in the future, the setting you choose will determine how your information is used.
Users can choose to get in early and disable this setting in case Facebook does decide to allow this type of advertising in the future. But there is nothing to indicate that Facebook is about to allow this new form of advertising this Friday or anytime soon.

In fact, as the following example illustrates, the entire garbled message is nothing more than a reworked variant of an earlier - and equally useless - message that claimed that Facebook was about to take ownership of your photographs "on Friday":
ATTENTION: On Friday, Facebook will become owner of the publishing rights of ALL your private photos. You need to make a simple change: go to 'account', 'account settings', 'facebook adverts'(along the top), 'ads shown by third parties', choose 'NO ONE' then SAVE. 2 seconds' job. And please Share share share. (for those who haven't done this yet.)
Thus, sending on this inaccurate and redundant "warning" is unlikely to help Facebook users protect their privacy. As noted, social ads have already been around for years and do not pose any significant threat to your online privacy. And the third party advertiser version of the social ads concept is something that Facebook may implement at some point in the future, but it is NOT due to come online "this Friday".

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Facebook Social Ads
Facebook Blog - Facebook Ads
Facebook Ads - Ads shown by third parties
Pointless Warning Message - Facebook About to Become Owner of Your Private Photos

Last updated: 6th June 2012
First published: 6th June 2012
Article written by Brett M. Christensen
About Brett Christensen and Hoax-Slayer