Your Photo May Appear in a Facebook Ad

FacebookHere we go again! Facebook wants to take the photos and content that you post and use them in advertisements. You won’t be able to opt-out of this new change. Your image might appear in an ad for a product that you “liked” – or in an ad for a product you have never used or that you dislike.

Facebook announced this upcoming change on August 29, 2013. A portion of the updates are in regards to “Advertisement and Other Commercial Content Served or Enhanced by Facebook.” Some of it reads:

You give us permission to use your name, profile picture, content, and information with commercial, sponsored, or related content (such as a brand you like) served or enhanced by us. This means, for example, that you permit a business or other entity to pay us to display your name and/or profile picture with your content or information, without compensation to you. If you have selected a specific audience for your content or information, we will respect your choice when we use it.

If you are under the age of eighteen (18), or under any other applicable age of majority, you represent that at least one of your parents or legal guardians has also agreed to the terms of this section (and the use of your name, profile picture, content, and information) on your behalf.

Does your child or teen use Facebook? His or her photos, information, and whatever other content he or she posts may be used in Facebook ads. Parents are going to be presumed to have consented to that use simply by allowing their child or teen to continue to use Facebook.

In 2012, a group of Facebook users from California filed a class action lawsuit against Facebook. It was specifically in regards to Facebook’s “Sponsored Stories”. The group argued that Facebook violated California law because Facebook did not publicize that a user’s profile photo could appear in a “Sponsored Story” ad as a result of a user clicking “like” (on a company or product). Ultimately, courts decided that Facebook had to provide payments of up to $10.00 for users who objected to being included in “Sponsored Story” ads.

Personally, I think that Facebook’s new update regarding ads is the company’s way of getting around the issue that resulted in a class action lawsuit in 2012. They are informing users that their photos and content may be used in Facebook ads. Sadly, Facebook still fails to understand that users don’t want their photos and content (or that of their child or teen) to be used in advertisements.

No More Physical Gifts from Facebook

FacebookThe Facebook Gift Store made its appearance about a year ago. The purpose was to enable Facebook to generate some revenue that wasn’t primarily based on ads.

I think the idea was that people would notice the reminders that Facebook generates to inform people that a friend’s birthday is coming up. Of course, they would want to send that person a gift, right? What could be easier than picking out a gift from the Facebook Gift Store? You could pick out a physical gift (a teddy bear, for example) and have Facebook ship it to that friend’s home or office.

It seems that things didn’t go as Facebook might have hoped. AllThingsD noted that more than 80% of the gifts that were sent on Facebook were digital, not physical. In other words, people were much more likely to send a friend a digital gift (instead of a physical one).

As such, Facebook is shifting away from giving people the option to purchase physical gift items from the Facebook Gift Store. Instead, people can send digital gifts from a variety of Facebook’s retail partners. It appears that Starbucks, Apple’s iTunes, and Target are among the options. This change is being rolled out to Facebook users this weekend.

Another change involves how those digital gifts are distributed and accessed. Some will still be through digital codes. It also seems that people will be required to use the Facebook Card in order to redeem some digital gifts that a friend sent to them through the Facebook Gift Store. According to AllThingsD, it seems that the Facebook Card lets you add a specific amount of money for a particular store. Once money has been earmarked for one store, you cannot use it at any of the other stores that Facebook is involved with.

Facebook Adds Embed posts Option

Facebook opened up their embedded post option to everyone today. Now, you can take a post, grab the embed code and insert into a blog like WordPress.

Developers can now add this to their apps. They released a new version of the Facebook plugin for WordPress that supports Embedded Posts. Otherwise, you can copy code to bring an embedded post into your article. Here is how:

How to Embed a Facebook Status

  1. Call up the specific post. Basically, select where it says how long ago the author posted it.
  2. From the drop-down on the top-right, choose “Embed Post”
  3. Copy the code and paste into your blog. It should look like this:

    embed-facebook-post

The End result:

Facebook Updated its News Feed Algorithm

FacebookFacebook is doing something new that might make it easier for you to find the things that you actually do want to read in your News Feed. They have made changes to the algorithm that will allow it to respond to “signals from you”. Ideally, this will result in you seeing more engaging and interesting things at the top of your Facebook News Feed.

The change to the algorithm will note several things that you do. It will notice how often you interact with a particular friend, Page, or a public figure (like a celebrity) who posted something. It will look at how much you have interacted with that type of post in the past.

The algorithm will also take into account how other people on Facebook interact with a specific post. It will keep track of the number of likes, shares, and comments that a particular post gets from people all across Facebook. It will note how your Facebook friends responded to that post. The algorithm is also going to notice whether or not you (or other people on Facebook) are hiding or reporting any given post.

All of this should result in the top 300 (out of 1,500 posts) in your Facebook News Feed being things that you actually are interested in and want to read, view, watch, and potentially respond to. The system is being rolled out right now, so not everyone has it yet.

I cannot help but wonder if a lot of people on Facebook start posting about a sports or cultural event, that you have no interest in, if that will end up at the top of your News Feed simply because of the amount of “likes” it has received. It appears that the new algorithm will push posts to the top of your News Feed that got a lot of interaction (even if the post first appeared lower down in your News Feed). Each post will have more than one “chance” of being placed in the top of your News Feed.

Facebook Hashtags Lack Engagement

HashtagFacebook added hashtags as a new feature a little more than a month ago. How is that working out for them? Not quite as well as they hoped it would. Somehow, this does not surprise me.

It seems that the idea was that adding hashtags would allow Facebook users to add some context to their posts. It would also allow other users to “discover content” by searching for a particular hashtag. Facebook was hoping that people would choose to post things like “I love #Starbucks”. The point was to encourage people to engage more with the brands that advertise on and through Facebook.

What happened? Part of the problem is that many of the brands on Facebook aren’t good at using hashtags across social media platforms. In other words, they might have used a particular hashtag on Facebook, and a different one on Twitter. Or, they use hashtags on Twitter, but don’t use them in Facebook. It is a lack of cohesiveness.

I think another problem is that people who are on Facebook don’t necessarily think to add a hashtag to their posts. If they don’t use Twitter, they may not have a context for using a hashtag in the first place. Also, just because Facebook adds the ability to use a hashtag doesn’t automatically mean people are going to use it to emphasize a brand that they like. They could be posting things like #Friday instead.

Simply Measured put together a lot of data about the effectiveness of the brands on Facebook. The top 10 most engaging brands average 19.9 million fans. Those brands post something 2.5 times per day. The top three most liked brands are: Facebook, Coca-Cola, and MTV. However, the group that has the most engagement with fans on Facebook is the automotive industry.

The study also found that brands that do not allow Facebook users to post onto the brand’s timeline end up with a 15% dip in engagement. The brand may be trying to avoid negative posts. The result is people stop engaging completely. Those brands probably need to improve their use of hashtags.

Facebook Admits 6 Million Users Affected by Bug

FacebookFacebook made an announcement on the Facebook Security page that a bug has affected approximately 6 million Facebook users. This bug allowed user’s email and/or phone number to be accessed by people who “either had some contact information about that person or some connection to them”. From the Facebook post:

We’ve concluded that approximately 6 million Facebook users had email addresses or telephone numbers shared. There were other email addresses or telephone numbers included in the downloads, but they were not connected to any Facebook users or even names of individuals. For almost all of the email addresses or telephone numbers impacted, each individual email address or telephone number was only included in a download once or twice. This means, in almost all cases, an email address or telephone number was only exposed to one person. Additionally, no other types of personal information or financial information were included and only people on Facebook – not developers or advertisers – have access to the DYI tool.

The “DYI” tool is the “Download Your Information” tool. The short answer about what happened is that people were using it to download an archive of their own Facebook account. When they did this, “they may have been provided with additional email address or telephone numbers for their contacts or people with whom they have some connection”.

Facebook says it confirmed the bug, then immediately disabled the DYI tool. They turned it back on after fixing the bug. According to Reuters, the data leaks from this bug began in 2012 and were a “year long data breach”.

Facebook Adds Hashtags

HashtagFacebook has launched a new feature that will help users to quickly get a larger view of what is happening in the world or of what topics people are currently talking about. The social media giant has decided to make use of the hashtag. According to Reuters Facebook has rolled out the ability to use hashtags to about 20% of its users today. There will be a more global launch of the new feature in the next few weeks.

Of course, to most of us, the use of the hashtag is not actually new. We have been using them on Twitter for years. Facebook has decided to now make use of the hashtag in the hopes of attracting younger users and keeping them interested in continuing to use Facebook. A recent study from Pew Research Center shows that teens have “waning enthusiasm” for Facebook.

Soon, people can post something on Facebook and include #Apple or #Android or #E3 or a hashtag of whatever else they are talking about. Other users will be able to click on those hashtags and see what other people (who also typed #Apple) are saying about it. You know… like we’ve been doing on Twitter for years.

Click “Like” for a Second Opinion?

FacebookThere are many reasons why you might be asked to click “like” on a Facebook page. You usually cannot access a coupon that a company offers until after you “like” their page. Bands might ask fans to click “like” to show their support. Political parties (or groups that favor a particular one) may want you to “like” their page or a post that is on it. Overall, this is fairly harmless.

Things get a little fishy when a health care provider asks you to do things on Facebook in order to be given a free second opinion. I’m not talking about those posts that get shared that tell a story of a child who needs surgery and who can get it after that post receives enough “likes”. I think most of us know that, in reality, there isn’t a surgeon frantically refreshing his or her Facebook page so he can dash into surgery the instant that last “like” is clicked and save a child’s life. Things just don’t work that way.

That being said, New Times SLO reports an odd story where Facebook and health care have collided. The Templeton Institute for Neurology has a Facebook page. They are offering a free second opinion, if you do the following things: “like” their main Facebook page, “like” their post, share their post, comment on their post, “like” their video, or share their video. Why? Here is their explanation:

Why your likes are so critical is that because this “one of a kind program in the world” depends in its funding and success on advancing name recognition of this free service measured by our “Facebook likes”.

The website for Templeton Institute for Neurology says:

Second Opinion is free at our institution, in excahnge (sic) for the “good will” of 50 of your firends (sic) liking us on Facebook. No insurance needed even if you have insurance.

According to the article from New Times SLO, a patient who does not want to use the “Facebook Free Program” that Templeton Institute for Neurology offers can still get the second opinion that they are seeking. However, it will cost them $2,500 for the initial consult and then $600 per hour for follow up through a place called Neurology Second Opinion Inc., (which is part of their practice).

Updated Facebook app coming to Windows Phone

Microsoft is now seeking beta testers for a new and updated version of the Facebook app for Windows Phone. Version 4.2.1 is still the current iteration on the mobile platform, but a new one is on the way. “Today we’re launching a new program designed to help speed up delivery of new features in the official Facebook app for Windows Phone and need sharp-eyed, energetic volunteers to download a beta version of our next release and tell us how to make it better” announces Microsoft’s Michael Stroh.

Users will find that the app is undergoing a major redesign and now includes several much-requested features, including new support for high-res photos, post sharing, and Facebook Timeline.

facebook beta for windows phone

Before you get too excited, Stroh cautions that if you “don’t like it when apps crash? This probably isn’t the program for you”. The good news is that you do not lose the current Facebook app if you decide to take the plunge then the beta will not replace the existing Facebook app, but instead run side-by-side with it.

EA is Retiring Some Facebook Games

EA LogoGamers who got really attached to their Sims games on Facebook are in for some sad news. Electronic Arts (EA) has announced that it will be retiring some of its games that are currently accessible through Facebook. EA is encouraging gamers on Facebook to check out titles by PopCap, instead.

What games are being retired? The announcement by EA states that The Sims Social, SimCity Social, and Pet Society will go offline on June 14, 2013. The games will no longer be available for play after that date. Why is EA doing this? According to their announcement:

After millions of people initially logged in to play these games, the number of players and amount of activity has fallen off. For people who have seen other recent shutdowns of social games, perhaps this is not surprising.

A quick glance through the EA website shows that there are several other Sims games available. There are some for iPad, iPhone, Android, or Kindle Fire. Unlike the ones on Facebook that are being retired, it looks like very few of the Sims games that are offered through the EA website are free to play.

Why is EA suggesting players check the games from PopCap? It makes more sense if you know that EA acquired PopCap in 2011. Specifically, EA would like the gamers who are sad about the loss of the games that will be retired to try Bejeweled Blitz, Solitaire Blitz, and Plants vs. Zombies Adventures. These titles will be available through Facebook. The announcement from EA says that the company will be making a “special offer” to help players make a smooth transition to PopCap.

Alas, your Sims and Pet Sims will soon disappear, forever. Perhaps shiny jewels and creepy zombies will help you to get over that loss.