Do You Trust Your Facebook Friends?

Facebook’s recently launched advertising strategy, dubbed Social Ads, attempts the harness the power of its social network and put it toward advertising dollars. There are two components to this strategy. There are Facebook Pages for bands, companies, and celebrities, on which you can list yourself as a “fan” of say, Coca Cola. Second is the integration of external websites. When you buy an item from a website partnered with Facebook, such as Blockbuster.com, a message is sent back to Facebook and your action may show up in News Feed.

The New York Times technology blog, Bits, has several posts criticizing Facebook’s new advertising platform on both social and legal levels. First of all, there is the question of effectiveness. As any Digital Native can tell you, the term “Facebook friend” has a meaning distinct from simply “friend,” and where you may care about the purchases of a real friend, it’s not the same with a Facebook friend. The second piece is about privacy, from both a legal perspective and in principle. Is there something uneasy about how Social Ads puts your face and name to advertise a product, even one you legitimately bought or proclaimed to be a fan of?

Despite the negativity found in the posts and comments of Bits, the new ad platform has seen relatively little internal discontent, certainly nothing close to the level of anti-News Feed hysteria. Have Facebook users, especially Digital Natives, simply accepted that they will cede some privacy for the use of this free and valuable service?

– Sarah Z.