Facebook Fibbing

Tuesday, November 13th, 2012

So I got an email from Facebook today.  It went to an account I set up while testing a project. My imaginary account has only one friend: my real account.

Anyway my lonely, sad, friendless, imaginary account gets an email from Facebook “Mark Caldwell are following Pages on Facebook”.  I’ve seen these messages to my account and they usually say “X, Y and Z are following pages on Facebook – Like the Pages you are interested in to get their updates in your news feed.” and then lists 6 pages implying an association between X, Y and Z and the pages.

This sort of marketing is far more likely to make a sale than some random advert.  It’s why Amazon sends so many emails asking for reviews of things you bought.  It’s why Facebook pushes likes for brands into your friends’ timelines.  I’ve heard that empirically its 5 times more likely to result in a sale than a print advert.

Except of the six pages it lists in the email it sent me I only have an association with one of the Pages listed.  The others are a comedian (Keith Lemon) I’ve no interest in, a wedding car hire company, a Liverpool bar I’ve never been to, a Liverpool shop I’ve never heard of and a deodorant I don’t particularly like the smell of and who’se brand managers are pitching at people 20 years younger than me.

Yet the email suggests, without actually saying explicitly, that I endorse these companies and brands.

So in order to make money off advertising Facebook has now taken to at best bending the truth, at worst outright lying about the pages, and by implication, brands, businesses and products we endorse.

If an advertiser put a picture of Keith Lemon by a product and implied he’d endorsed it how quickly would the sky turn legal paper yellow?  How quickly would the Advertising Standards Agency be smacking them around for false advertising?

Apparently Facebook believe we don’t deserve the same respect for our personal brand and reputation if they can squeeze a bit more profit out of their advertisers.

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