Facebook about to jump shark?

Via Phil Bradley, this article from the New York Times

Facebook began selling ads that display people’s profile photos next to commercial messages that are shown to their friends about items they purchased or registered an opinion about.

For example, going forward, a Facebook user who rents a movie on Blockbuster.com will be asked if he would like to have his movie choice broadcast out to all his friends on Facebook. And those friends would have no choice but to receive that movie message, along with an ad from Blockbuster.

Like Phil, this seems like a bad idea to me. As he says:

I don’t actually think it’s going to work that well – I have several groups of friends on FB – some of them are work colleagues, some are friends from science fiction conventions and others are friends from different places. This is NOT a homogeneous grouping of people. Sure, some may be interested in some of the things I like to read or buy, but not all of them will.

It’s also going to work the other way around as well – if friends start pumping adverts through to me… I’m still going to get the spam… and they’re not going to stay my friend for long.

Including brands in FB is fine; there’s been some interesting discussion about creating library ‘brands’ (on TameTheWeb, among other places). Something that lets an individual connect with brands or organisations that they like? Fantastic. A way for people to discover others with the same interest, all voluntarily. But something that imposes those connections on that user’s friends? Not so great. Seems like a good idea with a less than ideal implementation.

There’s also a final question: are these brands who they say they are? Which one is the real Manchester United? (sorry Phil, no Everton).

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About simonchamberlain

New Zealand librarian and music fan, living in London.
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