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Facebook Businesses Social Networks

Should Facebook 'Likes' Count As Commercial Endorsements? 189

Posted by Soulskill
from the like-it-or-not dept.
Slashdot contributor Bennett Haselton writes: "Facebook settled out of court over displaying ads that told you which of your friends had 'liked' a product or service, and another lawsuit is currently pending over the use of minors' pictures specifically in similar ads. (Not to be confused with another recently filed lawsuit alleging that Facebook converts private messages into public 'likes'.) Google+ tried to limit its liability by only showing the faces of users over 18 when showing which friends 'like' a page. I'm all for more privacy for social networking users, and if it's true that Facebook has been silently marking users as publicly 'liking' a page because they mentioned the page in a private message, the plaintiff's lawyers ought to clean them out for that one. But in cases where you willingly and knowingly 'liked' a page, Facebook and Google+ ought to be able to tell that to your friends in advertisements, without being sued for it." Read on for the rest of Bennett's thoughts.

The rationale for the case against the Facebook 'your-friends-have-liked-this' ads, seems to be that Facebook is violating laws and social norms against using someone's image in a commercial endorsement without their permission. But I can only think of two reasons for why those laws and social norms exist, and neither of those reasons would seem to apply to Facebook 'likes.' The two main reasons that come to mind are (1) loss of control over one's image, and (2) the creation of the false impression that the company has paid for a product endorsement.

Consider first the issue of the loss of control over your image. You would probably be annoyed if a company took a picture of your face and started featuring it prominently in their advertisements without your permission. (If you had taken the photo yourself, then the company would of course also be on the hook for copyright infringement, but let's assume that the company had one of their photographers take the photo so that they owned the copyright, and the only issue is the unfair use of your likeness.) At that point, you have no control over the dissemination of the picture. Even assuming that you like the way you look in the picture, you might find it creepy to think of thousands of strangers looking at the photo of you (or your kids). That would be an argument in favor of requiring companies to get people's permission before using their likenesses in advertisements.

But that argument would not apply to an ad in your Facebook feed which shows you the profile pictures of friends who have 'liked' a page. Those profile pictures were uploaded by those users expressly so that their Facebook friends could see them. At any time, they can select a different 'profile picture', or remove any profile pictures that they no longer wish to be visible to friends. (Facebook took a lot of well-deserved criticism for exposing users' profiles and pictures to non-friends, as well, even for users who have disabled that setting — but that's a separate issue. The "ads" in question only display your pictures to your friends.)

Second, consider the issue of creating the false impression of a paid product endorsement. With traditional advertisements, it might seem strange that people respond to ads featuring a nice, attractive-but-not-in-your-face-attractive person using a product, even if the photo doesn't seem to directly convey any information about the product itself. What the photo really conveys is that the company behind the product has resources — to hire models, photographers, lighting crews, photo editors, and of course to buy the space to display the ad. This ostentatious display of "resources" might reassure a customer that the company similarly has the resources to test their product thoroughly, to replace a product that breaks, or to honor their returns policy. But it only works if the user believes that the company actually did spend money on all of those things to create the ad.

This is even more true of ads featuring paid celebrities. Steven Landsburg, in a passage from his book The Armchair Economist, writes:

"[I]t is also common to see products endorsed by celebrities who have no particular expertise, and who are obviously being paid for their testimony. Well-known actresses endorse health clubs; ex-politicians endorse luggage; in Massachusetts recently, a Nobel prize-winning economist endorsed automobile tires. People respond to these ads, and sales increase. What useful information can there be in knowing that the manufacturer of your overnight bag paid a six-figure fee to feature a famous person in a television commercial? How can it be rational to choose your luggage on this basis?

Let me suggest an answer. [...] Hiring a celebrity to endorse your product is like posting a bond. The firm makes a substantial investment up front and reaps returns over a long period of time. A firm that expects to disappear in a year won't make such an investment. When I see a celebrity endorsement, I know that the firm has enough confidence in the quality of its product to expect to be around awhile.

(The full argument is in the text of The Armchair Economist on Scribd, although you've probably got the idea.)

However, none of this applies to your friend's profile picture appearing in an ad in your Facebook feed. No rational person would think that meant that the friend had been paid for the endorsement, so the ad doesn't falsely convey anything about the company's "resources." (All you really know is that the company paid some money to buy the ad — but, unlike a print ad that appears in a national magazine, you have no idea how much they spent to promote their brand on Facebook just because you happen to be seeing the promotion.) The valuable information conveyed in the ad is just what it seems — at least one of your friends thought the company or product was cool enough to 'like' it.

(This argument does leave an interesting case uncovered. What if a real recognizable celebrity 'liked' a page on Facebook, and that company paid for a flurry of ads in people's Facebook feeds prominently featuring the celebrity's likeness, truthfully claiming that the celebrity liked their product, but without paying the celebrity? I don't happen to know of any real-life case where a company found out that a celebrity actually used their product, and then started advertising the fact that their product was used by that celebrity without actually paying the celebrity, using the defense that all they were doing was stating a true fact. (Tell me in the comments if you know if that's happened.) However, Facebook seems to have ducked that issue for now, because virtually no actual celebrities have regular user profiles on Facebook; they have official fan pages, clearly demarcating the line between "them" and "us." So the sponsored ads are not likely to include a real celebrity's likeness any time soon.)

Fundamentally, if an 'ad' appears in your Facebook feed telling you that some of your friends 'liked' a page, all that ad is doing is stating a true fact, something that Facebook ought to be allowed to do under the First Amendment. I don't agree with Mitt Romney that "corporations are people too, my friend," but they do have First Amendment rights, which I would argue should include the right to tell you if friends of yours have publicly indicated that they like a product or service.

One currently pending lawsuit against Facebook makes much of the fact that Facebook's ads were displaying the profile pictures of minors, and that California law requires the permission of a minor's parents to use their likeness in an ad. But when that law was drafted, the authors probably had in mind the kind of traditional advertisements that raise the two concerns above — where (1) the minor and their family lose control over the dissemination of their image, and (2) the use of the likeness creates the false impression of a paid advertisement. It's not obvious that they would have considered the law to apply to a note in your Facebook feed telling you that your friend had liked a page. To the extent that the law could be interpreted to prohibit those kinds of notifications, that's arguably a violation of Facebook's First Amendment rights.

Of course, I've made this argument by assuming that the two reasons listed at the top are the only reasons that a company should be required to get people's permission before using their likeness in advertisements, and that if those reasons don't apply to Facebook 'likes,' then the permission requirement should not apply. But there may be other reasons besides those two, reasons that would also apply to ads listing Facebook 'likes,' and then that would invalidate the argument. But in the meantime, even though I don't use Facebook, if I did, I'd tentatively be fine with Facebook showing my profile picture in 'ads' to friends listing me as one of a group of people who had 'liked' a particular page.

On the other hand, if Facebook is really scanning your private messages for mentions of a particular page, and then automatically indicating on your profile that you 'like' that page, then yes, that means that any 'likes' acquired in that manner were not intended by the user to be public, and yes, that changes everything.

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Should Facebook 'Likes' Count As Commercial Endorsements?

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  • Fuck off, Bennett (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 07, 2014 @03:09PM (#45890279)

    Another Bennett wall of text. Does anyone actually read these?

    I'm surprised he didn't insert his whining about being rightfully pegged as a spammer.

    • Let off some steam, Bennett.
    • by Hatta (162192) on Tuesday January 07, 2014 @04:58PM (#45891519) Journal

      Where's the "onoitsbennett" tag?

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by ottothecow (600101)
        Does this moron get paid to post here or something?

        I always have enough Karma that I get the "disable advertising" checkbox, but I rarely bother checking it since I don't particularly mind them and slashdot has got to pay the bills somehow...

        Today I am clicking it. I am clicking it in protest of Bennett's continued ability to submit walls of moronic text to the front page. I am clicking it with hopes that I am depriving Dice of a minuscule amount or revenue that might help them consider whether they s

  • Ummmm .... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gstoddart (321705) on Tuesday January 07, 2014 @03:10PM (#45890291) Homepage

    (2) the creation of the false impression that the company has paid for a product endorsement.

    They have paid for a product endorsement. They just haven't paid you.

    But, joking aside, I believe it should be illegal to use my name or image to endorse a product without me being explicitly asked, and compensated. Anything else is a fraudulent use of my name.

    Oh, and Mark Zuckerberg is a douchebag.

    • It would be if you trademarked your face. Trademark your face / image and you could sue facebook for trademark infringement.

      • Re:Ummmm .... (Score:4, Insightful)

        by gstoddart (321705) on Tuesday January 07, 2014 @03:25PM (#45890513) Homepage

        You know, using my name or likeness without my permission for any reason shouldn't require trademark.

        It should be illegal to begin with -- because if you never asked me, you should have no bloody expectation you can legally do it.

        I, for instance, could not use Zuckerfuck's likeness to endorse adult diapers with built-in butt plugs.

        But somehow I'm expected to believe his EULA grants him the right to do this? I think not.

      • by wvmarle (1070040)

        Said like a typical USAian whose world isn't bigger than that.

        Laws and regulations vary. Trademarked in one country doesn't mean it's trademarked in the rest of the world (trademarks are specifically location and product related).

        Using such photos varies per country, but in general it's not considered OK to use one's face as endorsement for a product, without this person knowing about it. That's also in part the reason those famous sports players or movie stars can get those lucrative product endorsement co

    • Re:Ummmm .... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by rjstanford (69735) on Tuesday January 07, 2014 @03:34PM (#45890637) Homepage Journal

      Then why on earth did you "Like" the product, if you didn't want your friends to see that you "Liked" the product? Same comment but louder if you reviewed it.

      I agree with the sentiment - if they're pretending you "Liked" something when you just mentioned it, that's bad. But the whole point - indeed, the only point - of giving something a "Like" is to share your opinion with others. Don't pretend to be surprised when the sharing happens.

      • by fatphil (181876)
        Never having used facebook (or even successfully viewed a page on it, when I've ended up following fb links, I've been served nothing but a login screen, which is quite useless), I might not have this right, but as far as I've read when you "like", you're only liking a single message - such as a funny advertising image/video. And whilst you may like that single image/vid, that should not be taken as endorsing the product being advertised. So you didn't actually ``"Like" the product'' /per se/.
        • Re:Ummmm .... (Score:4, Informative)

          by rjstanford (69735) on Tuesday January 07, 2014 @04:05PM (#45890973) Homepage Journal

          You can like a "page" (concept/business/celebrity/etc), a comment made by a page or an individual, or a response-comment made by a page or an individual. The only ones that I've ever even heard of showing up as "likes" in the "Your friend Bob likes GreaseBurgers!" sense are the first sort in that list. Facebook does provide another, easily ignored "chatter" type stream that might show you "Bob likes GreaseBurger's comment 'Cholesterol is a government conspiracy'" but they always clearly differentiate the two ideas.

          • by fatphil (181876)
            OK, thanks for that. I do remember a story very much like this one coming up a few years ago, and that time it was framed as suckers liking adverts (and the misinterpretation of that as endorsing the product).

            From my position of almost total ignorance and not giving flying monkey bollock, I'd say that once a sucker's asked facebook to associate himself with a business or celebrity, then he's given permission for facebook to associate that business or celebrity with you. And the fact that association is call
      • Re:Ummmm .... (Score:5, Interesting)

        by gstoddart (321705) on Tuesday January 07, 2014 @03:45PM (#45890747) Homepage

        But the whole point - indeed, the only point - of giving something a "Like" is to share your opinion with others. Don't pretend to be surprised when the sharing happens.

        No, that's an interpretation, but it isn't a correct one.

        If I like something on Facebook, it's because I would like to see their future updates. Period.

        It isn't a commercial endorsement, and I don't necessarily want everybody I know to be informed of that fact (and I sure as hell don't give a damn that my Aunt has Liked "Cute Cat Pictures Volume 693").

        • by rjstanford (69735)

          If I like something on Facebook, it's because I would like to see their future updates. Period.

          And the "cost" of having an expensive third-party distribution network to provide those same updates to you is that your request is semi-public knowledge (in that you self-select the group of friends who can see it). Not unreasonable, methinks, and spelled out in both the letter and the spirit of your relationship with FB.

        • Re:Ummmm .... (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Baloroth (2370816) on Tuesday January 07, 2014 @04:17PM (#45891099)

          But the whole point - indeed, the only point - of giving something a "Like" is to share your opinion with others. Don't pretend to be surprised when the sharing happens.

          No, that's an interpretation, but it isn't a correct one.

          If I like something on Facebook, it's because I would like to see their future updates. Period.

          Seriously? That's how you interpret clicking the "like" button in a social network which is specifically and from the very beginning designed to share stuff with other people? And you think he has the wrong interpretation?

          Well, that's certainly an... interesting position to take.

          • by Anonymous Coward
            GP is right: "Like" on Facebook pages actually means "follow"/"subscribe". It's just obnoxiously named.
        • But the whole point - indeed, the only point - of giving something a "Like" is to share your opinion with others. Don't pretend to be surprised when the sharing happens.

          No, that's an interpretation, but it isn't a correct one.

          Can you offer any other interpretion of declaring "I like XY" in front of either your friends or in public?

          You're clicking like to show others (either friends or the public) that you like something. Otherwise the button would be called "I don't care". And there is no reason to tell yourself what you like using facebook. (except some special medical conditions)

      • Re:Ummmm .... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by TheCarp (96830) <sjc&carpanet,net> on Tuesday January 07, 2014 @03:58PM (#45890885) Homepage

        Except like doesn't always mean like.

        You have to like a group or product just to be able to post on the page about it and be part of the discussion. So, if I see something I don't like, if I see a product that is a scam or that didn't work as advertised, I can't even post in a group discussing it unless i hit "like"

        In short, they took other concepts like "subscribe", conflated them into their "like" button and now are trying to claim that because you hit the button called "like" that you actually like whatever it is.

        This would be a little like me replacing my doorbell with a button that says "I love surprise anal sex", and then publishing pictures of everyone who comes to visit me with the slogan "These people love surprise anal sex". Does that really seem legit?

        • You have to like a group or product just to be able to post on the page about it and be part of the discussion. So, if I see something I don't like, if I see a product that is a scam or that didn't work as advertised, I can't even post in a group discussing it unless i hit "like"

          Facebook might argue thusly:

          * You don't have a right to post on a page.
          * Facebook restricts posting on a page to people who like that page. (literal sense).
          * People who 'like' a page who don't really like the page, are clicking the

          • by TheCarp (96830)

            They might argue that, and they might have every right to suspend my account for doing so.

            However, I don't see how that adds up to a reasonable expectation, especially since this sees no enfocrement whatsoever, that people who like a page actually litterally like it. Any such claim would do little more than display their own ignorance as to how their own service is actually used.

            Seeing as there is no enforcement, and it is rather common for people to use the like button other than in this manner, I don't se

        • You have to like a group or product just to be able to post on the page about it and be part of the discussion. So, if I see something I don't like, if I see a product that is a scam or that didn't work as advertised, I can't even post in a group discussing it unless i hit "like"

          In short, they took other concepts like "subscribe", conflated them into their "like" button and now are trying to claim that because you hit the button called "like" that you actually like whatever it is.

          That may have been their intent or not, but you still should not be surprised if someone takes your like at face value.

          I bet you have seen lots of company statements bragging with their huge number of "likes". Have you ever heard any of them differentiate on what the users might have meant with "like"? No. Because it's all the same. Big number of likes = big money. If you hit like to show your dislike of something, you fell for their trap.

          Show your dislike of something by keeping the like numbers low.

          This would be a little like me replacing my doorbell with a button that says "I love surprise anal sex", and then publishing pictures of everyone who comes to visit me with the slogan "These people love surprise anal sex". Does that really seem legit?

          Don't know and don't care. But would you be surprised if less people than before rang on your doorbell? Would YOU ring such a button if you don't like surprise anal sex?

          Does a speed limit sign sometimes does not mean a speed limit? Does signing a contract for buying something that you don't have to pay the agreed sum? More or less, or not at all? Has the excuse of "But I thought it's opposite day today!" ever worked?

          Things may not always mean what they say, but you should NOT be surprised if someone who doe

      • by drinkypoo (153816)

        I can see both sides of this argument. Look at it this way: It's eminently reasonable for them to announce the number of likes, but since it's still illegal to use your likeness for profit without your consent, using your name is another thing entirely.

    • by EvilSS (557649)

      But, joking aside, I believe it should be illegal to use my name or image to endorse a product without me being explicitly asked, and compensated.

      It usually is. It's one of the few times you do have some control over your own image. There may be something hidden in their TOS that you are signing away that right as a user though.

  • Aye, there's the rub.

    WTF does willingly and knowingly mean? BS weasel words, in this context.

    • No. It means that you saw the button and had control of the mouse pointer and can be expected to know the meaning of the word "like".

      You neither unwillingly clicked like (someone forced you or some malware faked a like click) and you knew that you were clicking.

  • So, everybody likes a deal, &
    few resist giving a false "Like"
    in response to a freebie or big discount on something they want.

    Therefore, many / most "Likes" are meaningless CfC's. IMO.

    • by Mitreya (579078)

      Therefore, many / most "Likes" are meaningless CfC's. IMO.

      Particularly meaningless without "DisLikes".

      What does 100 "Likes" mean without knowing if there are 10 "DisLikes" or 1000 "DisLikes" that go with it?

    • wait wait wait...

      scroll up a few posts... someone posted

      But, joking aside, I believe it should be illegal to use my name or image to endorse a product without me being explicitly asked, and compensated.

      so some user was explicitly asked to give a like AND there actually was some form of compensation.

  • by furbyhater (969847) on Tuesday January 07, 2014 @03:14PM (#45890343)
    Stop using facebook. Now.
    • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Wednesday January 08, 2014 @05:28AM (#45895945) Journal
      I had some sympathy for Facebook users, because I've so far met one person (and I've asked a few dozen) who had both read and agreed to the Facebook terms and conditions, and he only read the first set, not each subsequent set. But now that there have been a great many stories in the mainstream press about what Facebook does and how it makes its money? If you're still on Facebook, you deserve everything you get.
  • by Allicorn (175921) on Tuesday January 07, 2014 @03:15PM (#45890365) Homepage

    Or maybe "like" is an term with no formal meaning here and I'm just "liking" page because that's what we call "bookmarks" on this particular website. Or "favorites", or "starred", or whatever. I might even be "liking" the page because I want to remember what a bunch of douchebags the associated outfit have been to me or my family in the past and want to keep an eye on their marketing babble so that I can warn friends/family not to be caught out by it.

    When I "favorite" a website in Internet Explorer, nobody thinks it implies I commercially endorse whatever organization's page it was. Why should a "like" infer that.

    Of course in practice I firewall Facebook at the router.

    • Or maybe "like" is an term with no formal meaning here and I'm just "liking" page because that's what we call "bookmarks" on this particular website.

      Then use friggin bookmarks if you want bookmarks! But don't fake surprise when someone tells you that "like" means "like" and not "bookmark".

      Misusing "likes" as bookmarks might work for a while, but so might do filling the amount on your checks with your lucky lottery numbers. "Oh I thought that "amount" is what lottery numbers are called on those forms"...

      Don't blame anyone else for what you think something means.

  • by joe_frisch (1366229) on Tuesday January 07, 2014 @03:17PM (#45890393)

    FB uses the tern "friend" to describe someone with whom you wish to have some level of communication, not someone who fits the conventional definition of "friend". The action of "like" is used in FB to indicate an acknowledgement of some post, not necessarily approval - I've seen people "like" posts about horrific events.

    To further confuse things, companies will collect "inappropriate" likes. Some vendor vendor posts a picture of a cute kitten. People "like" the picture in the hopes that their friends will see it as well. That "like" in no way indicates that they actually recommend the (often completely unrelated) product. Sometimes it isn't even obvious to users that they are endorsing a commercial product.

    This leads to a rather confusing landscape where people (who are not actually friends), are listed as "liking" a product that they do not in any way actually endorse. Whether advertising that "your friends like this product" is deceptive or not depends on whether you are using the conventional or FB definitions of "friends" and "like".

    Personally I completely ignore this sort of endorsement because I understand what it really means (which is nothing). I make an effort to avoid "liking" any commercial links to avoid giving the impression that I endorse their products.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by rjstanford (69735)

      Some vendor vendor posts a picture of a cute kitten. People "like" the picture in the hopes that their friends will see it as well. That "like" in no way indicates that they actually recommend the (often completely unrelated) product.

      Aha - I have a solution! Facebook should create, at their own expense, a "Share" button that works orthogonally to the "Like" button. It could even sit next to it to avoid confusion so that people aiming at one would see the other and be able to decide which better indicates their sentiment. Would that meet your requirements, good sir?

    • by msobkow (48369)

      Until I can also register a "dislike" of a product or service, Facecrap has no business thinking I endorse anything.

    • If "like" does not mean an endorsement, what does it mean? Why would you "like" anything if not to tell your friends that you did and that you want them to do likewise? To me it is pretty clear that "like" is an explicit endorsement. The argument about what exactly it is I am endorsing concerns the target of the action, not the action itself. I really can not see how anybody could mistake it for "acknowledge" or "bookmark".

      • There is no FB option for "acknowledge" or "bookmark" to alert other people that a post is interesting.

        FB is of course free to run their business as they wish, but if they redefine commonly used words as part of their commercial activity, they shouldn't be surprised if people try to sue them for misrepresentation. I'm not a legal expert, so I can't comment on the legal validity of this sort of suit.

        • but if they redefine commonly used words as part of their commercial activity, they shouldn't be surprised if people try to sue them for misrepresentation. I'm not a legal expert, so I can't comment on the legal validity of this sort of suit.

          I'm neither, but I wonder how treating "like" as "like" could seen as "redefing sommonly used words" Could you eloaborate on that?

          a redifinition happens when someone uses "like" as bookmark.

          • Many people use "like" as a way to bookmark and share pages, just as they use "friend" as a way to give a person (they may not like) access.

            Whether this is misuse by users or misuse by FB is a valid question. To take an extreme case, if the only way to open a browser window in some operating system were to click on a button labeled "I love microsoft", I would consider that a to be user interface that deceptively collects 'I love" clicks. On the other hand if this were just one of a wide number of ways to

      • If you like a particular commercial, that does not mean that you like the product being advertised.

    • The worst is when your 'like' becomes a commercial thing after the fact.

      For example, I marked that I 'like' chess. Later, that somehow become owned by chess.com, which is a completely different matter.
  • Sometimes I *like* something because I want to follow it. I might not like some of my local politicians, but I still like their pages just so I can follow what train wreck policy they might be putting to a vote that week. Liking it makes it conveniently show up on my newsfeed.

    • by mlts (1038732)

      The problem is when one likes the trainwreck politicos, those likes seem to get propagated to friends, and they start to question my sanity.

      What I'd like to have is a context split. A "follow" button which is no way the same thing as a "like" button.

      • Fantastic idea!

        Could such a button used for advertisments? Then I wouldn't hold my breath for it.

    • Sometimes I *like* something because I want to follow it.

      Feel free to do so.

      Feel free to put a personal message in the name field of an order form if there is no field for messages. But don't be surpriseed if it shows up on the parcel as recipient. I think the technical term for such an idea is "nice try.".

      I might not like some of my local politicians, but I still like their pages just so I can follow what train wreck policy they might be putting to a vote that week. Liking it makes it conveniently show up on my newsfeed.

      You're making use of a side effect of a "like" statement. It's like using aspirin to prevent heart diesease and being surprised that it makes your heqadache go away.

      Yes, bookmarks and follows would be nice features on fb. But simulating them by making use of th

  • by Carcass666 (539381) on Tuesday January 07, 2014 @03:20PM (#45890435)

    A lot of commercial "likes" are generated as opt-ins to contests and the like. For example, a local news channel will instruct its viewers to like a certain Facebook page to be eligible to win something. To me, the commercial value of a "like" would be low, I don't know of anybody who says "I will buy XXX instead of YYY because they have more likes on their Facebook page" (or more followers on Twitter, whatever). I don't ses the ROI on social media engagement, unless you are a marketing firm or consultancy charging by the project or hour.

    • by gstoddart (321705) on Tuesday January 07, 2014 @03:29PM (#45890559) Homepage

      I don't ses the ROI on social media engagement, unless you are a marketing firm or consultancy charging by the project or hour.

      My guess is there's little empirical evidence to suggest there's much (or any) ROI.

      But, marketing wankers being what they are, have decided social media is the new thing, and they will use that as much as they can.

      The fact that there are companies who you can pay to get you more followers on Twitter or fake friends on Facebook pretty much sums up its value.

      But it's also hard to deny seeing the Facebook and Twitter logos on damned near everything these days. People clearly believe it works and provides value.

      • by fatphil (181876)
        A few local pubs and live music venues offer discounts, for many of their events to those who have "like"d that venue/event. For them, it's hard for it to have anything apart from negative value. Unless those "like"ing them are so fickle that they wouldn't turn up if it were a euro more. But is that really the kind of market you want to rely on and cater to?
        • by gstoddart (321705)

          For them, it's hard for it to have anything apart from negative value.

          Tough to say ... sometimes giving discounts nets you more in the long run because people come in and spend money.

          Loss leaders and discounts can still be profitable.

    • If anything, this only shows that people are willing to lie for nothing but peanuts.

      If you were a celebrity and accepted a big sum to shoot an advertisment, would you be surprised if that commercial was aired? Of course not! That's what the money was for!

      And if you accept a discount or participation in sweepstakes to make a public statement that you like something? Come crying "But I didn't really mean it" and you admit not only to be a sock puppet, but a cheap sock puppet.

  • I may tell my friends that I like a particular restaurant, but that doesn't mean that I want that restaurant to pay one of my friends to wear my picture around his neck and tell all of the rest of my friends that I like the restaurant.

  • PROTIP FFS (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 07, 2014 @03:31PM (#45890597)

    You can't be on social media and still claim to be a privacy advocate. One or the other. No one understands the meanings of these words anymore. Social media is just that: SOCIAL. If you want privacy, then you should probably not be on facebook, you blithering idiot.

    • I don't think they are mutually exclusive. There's a difference between volunteering information about yourself and withholding information about yourself. Just because you are on social media, it doesn't mean you tell everyone everything there is to know about you. (Example, on social media I never mention what school district my kids go to.) There's also the situation that, if you give a company some private information that they say will remain private and then they make it public, that's a privacy v

  • by frovingslosh (582462) on Tuesday January 07, 2014 @03:34PM (#45890631)

    I'm all for more privacy for social networking users

    What part of "social network" does Bennett not understand? If you use these damn "services" then you should expect them to be doing shit like this. I'm much more concerned that almost every site that I visit lately sends traffic to Facebook and lets them track information about me, even though I have never and will never use facebook.

    • by ah.clem (147626)

      I'm much more concerned that almost every site that I visit lately sends traffic to Facebook and lets them track information about me, even though I have never and will never use facebook.

      Try Ghostery. I think you will be amazed at how many trackers it blocks (I've found as many as 34 on a single page). Of course, they aggregate the total trackers blocked daily and sell that info, but it's not your data for targeted adverts.

      In my opinion, it's tough to win in the privacy battle, but you can minimize your exposure.

  • by mwvdlee (775178) on Tuesday January 07, 2014 @03:37PM (#45890669) Homepage

    Facebook is for hipsters.
    All "likes" are sarcastic.

    Seriously though; relabelling the "inform me of changes on this page" button to "like", doesn't mean I actually "like" it. It just means that you're mislabelling your functionality.

    • Have you proof that that relabeling ever actually happend or are you just IMAGINING that that happend?

  • "Likes" do not represent something people like. So characterizing it as that in an ad is deceptive.

    People "like" things for any number of reasons; maybe they were initially interested, but then decided the product was an utter piece of shit upon further inspection. Maybe they "liked" it as a joke, or ironically, or because it was stupid or funny or ridiculous in some way, or accidentally.

    To take a "like" out of any sort of context, and then with a serious face say "So and so likes X. You should buy it!" tak

    • "Likes" do not represent something people like. So characterizing it as that in an ad is deceptive.

      If hitting "like" might not mean "like", wouldn't that mean that "XY likes Z" might represent something else then "XY likes Z"?

      So you add lots of personal interpretation to the "like" button but don't give the same leeway to other statements?

      • by vux984 (928602)

        So you add lots of personal interpretation to the "like" button but don't give the same leeway to other statements?

        Context is everything.

        When facebook presents an ad, and says XY likes Z, they give it a specific context that did not exist with the mere fact of the fact that XY clicked like on page Z.

        But there is only one reasonable interpretation for why facebook is showing that ad with that image with that caption, and its not because they want me to think my friend XY accidently clicked like on the page f

  • I can think of a reason why this doesn't work.... saying that they have "liked" something contains the implicit assumption that they actually like it....that is...they hit like honestly. I can see why that might be a valid assumption if you are ignoring the details but, the simple fact is, facebook doesn't have a dislike button.

    In fact, I personally "liked" Obama's facebook page. Why? Is it because I like him? No. I didn't even vote for him the first time around. I also have "liked" a page by the "Reagan Co

  • Are facebook users aware that anything that they say (or like) can and will be used against them, even if they said/liked it before any warning was given?
  • by nurb432 (527695) on Tuesday January 07, 2014 @03:50PM (#45890801) Homepage Journal

    Private data is semi-private. Don't want your name to be associated to something, don't use social media. Remember the services own the content, not you.

  • But in cases where you willingly and knowingly 'liked' a page, Facebook and Google+ ought to be able to tell that to your friends in advertisements, without being sued for it.

    So if I go to Google and find a query that links to my web site, should I be able to use the Google logo in a commercial saying, "As recommended by Google"? If there's a Facebook page that links to my site, should I be able to use their logo?

    Commercial endorsement rights cost money.

  • In order to comment on the wall of the company's page, you need to like it.

    I've liked many pages just so I could tell the company (or politician) how they can best sod off.

    • by Dthief (1700318)
      that'll teach them...I mean...you
    • In order to comment on the wall of the company's page, you need to like it.

      I've liked many pages just so I could tell the company (or politician) how they can best sod off.

      And in doing so, increasing their like counter.

      I guess the requirement of "like before post" is to keep comments on "how to sod off" from their page. Or at least trick those who still insist on those comments into giving a like in return first.

  • We have a "Dislike" button. It does NOTHING. Because when I choose to share my opinion, IT WON'T FIT ON A FREAKIN' BUTTON.
    I have a wall. It's very tall and very thick, and made of stone. Post on it all you like, if you can get across the moat. Watch out for the archers. They will poke you.
    I'd invite you to join, but IT'S AN ANTISOCIAL NETWORK. DUH.

  • On Facebook "liking" some entity is the only way to really follow posts made by that thing. So, no. I may want to hear what my enemy has to say. On facebook, to "follow" them, I have to "like" them. It's just a stupid word that poorly describes the functionality.

  • Bennett Haselton (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Does this kid pay /. to have his blog entries posted here?

  • let's assume that the company had one of their photographers take the photo so that they owned the copyright, and the only issue is the unfair use of your likeness.

    Yes, they would own the copyright, but using it in any meaningful way would require them to get me to sign a model release form authorizing them to use my image. Of course, Facebook's TOS probably has text along the lines of "you consent to your image being used by any company we partner with for any purpose we decide" to cover the model release

    • by hyades1 (1149581)

      Wouldn't it be nice if people who wanted to screw Facebook made sure they had such third parties in many of their photos, and a highly carnivorous lawyer on retainer.

  • So I was never ever stupid enough to have anything to do with facebook. I feel bad for the people they are screwing, a little, and I do really hope they have success in court and take a big chunk out just on general principles, but I am really not affected here.

    However, I was stupid enough to sign up for gmail once upon a time. And I even uploaded a little picture that was supposedly ONLY to display to people that I have approved on that chat list.

    Fast forward a little, google buys youtube, and gets this G+

  • Suppose I say publicly that I like product X and think it's a good buy. I'm not under contract with the manufacturer to do ads for them. They aren't paying me to endorse their product. I haven't had any contact with them at all. Is the manufacturer entitled to go and quote me, using my name and my statements in their advertisements, without getting my agreement to let them do so first? As far as I know, they don't. It has nothing to do with anything I said. It has to do with them simply not having a right t

  • there is no dislike option, there is no funny option.

    people dont use the "Like" to mean i like that. people have "Like" 'd people dying or getting injured.

    commenting on something or "Like"-ing it is not the same as endorsing the product, idea, object, etc.

    that being said no one is forced to use facebook, so as long as they are clear about what they do (which they arent) then I think they should be able to use "Likes" in this way. Maybe the best solution is to change "Like" to "Acknowledge"

  • I would like to take this opportunity to note that my 2014 New Years resolution was completed successfully by deleting Facebook (after 10 years) in 2013.

    And humbly submit this page reasons why many people do: http://fulldecent.blogspot.com/2013/12/ten-things-you-can-only-do-without.html [blogspot.com]

  • I don't agree with Mitt Romney that "corporations are people too, my friend," but they do have First Amendment rights

    That means you do agree with him, since you're saying that corporations have constitutional rights - It reads "We the people" not "We the people and acceptable business structures".

    Considering that uploading to FB grants them a transferable and royalty free worldwide licence, the amount of control the end user has over their likeness or any other content they upload is very limited indeed.

    With that in mind, FB can use your content in any way it pleases unless (and perhaps not even then) you delete the conte

The meat is rotten, but the booze is holding out. Computer translation of "The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak."

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