If you have been on Facebook at all, you have been faced with the option to “like” a product, service, or business.  You might select to “like” it to make a statement of support.  More likely you selected “like” in order to get messages from the organization on your Facebook feed, or to register fora contest or coupons or the like.  If you are like most of us, you do not think much more about the action.

Facebook, and corporations that would like to advertise on Facebook, however, think a great deal about that click.  We all know that the organization will send us information on our feed about the product or service, thereby opening ourselves to advertising.   Facebook and the organizations that advertise want to achieve much more with this information.    This additional use is the source of a lawsuit in California claiming that Facebook and certain advertisers use the information without paying them or giving them a way to opt out.  According to an article in the New York Times,

The case focuses on an advertising tactic known as sponsored stories, in which Facebook users endorse brands, in some cases without their knowledge. For example, if users “like” Wal-Mart, the retailer uses their names and pictures in advertisements to their friends on the social network. Wal-Mart pays Facebook for the service.

In other words, they use your image and the fact that you “liked” the organization to advertise to your Facebook friends and even to others who may not know you over Facebook.  Think how much stronger advertising can be if they say “John Smith, Mary Jones and Ken Anderston all like this product.”  It is an endorsement.  Perhaps your “liking” had nothing to do with an endorsement … maybe it was just a way of getting information about a product — or even a competitor’s product.   It could be misleading to say you are advocating the organization, and might be down right wrong to say you are.  Hence, the California law.

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