Stopping Facebook from using your picture in ads
Have you ever noticed that on the sidebar of your Facebook account or even in your timeline that there are sponsored ads, featuring the profile picture of a friend of yours? “Joe Mackford likes Chili’s Baby Back Ribs, you can too for only $9.99” or something similar pops up, which seems harmless, but combine that with a less desirable product, like the one pictured above, and you have a potentially embarrassing or bad situation.
But how do these profile pictures get roped into these ads? It’s not as sinister as you might think, rather, it is based on Facebook Pages individuals have liked, so if Joe Mackford clicked “Like” on the Chili’s page, then his face might pop up in an ad.
Some disagree that it is harmless, and there is currently a pending class-action lawsuit against Facebook for using photos of users in sponsored story ads without their permission, particularly underage children who have no ability to grant permission in the first place. the Fraley Facebook Settlement is suing for the establishment of a $20 million fund from which “victims” who have been used in sponsored stories may be compensated.
There are two ways to see all of the pages you have liked on Facebook, which not only stops your face from appearing in ads about said brands, but has the added bonus of making the Facebook Graph Search more relevant. When you only like pages you want to be associated with, not only does that limit your appearance in sponsored stories (permitted by you or not), but allows people using the new search to get more accurate results… think of what happens when someone searches “my friends who live in Dallas, TX who like Big Butts,” and your name comes up because you jokingly “liked” a page in 2009. Now you’re the Big Butt liker.
Two ways to review all Pages you’ve liked on Facebook
Publik Demand has set up a tool that allows you to “take back your likes” wherein you simply log in and unlike brands and pages you would not want to appear next to in an ad, and simplifies the process. They call it their “Unlike Tool” and only requires access to your publicly available data, rather than asking for any private information.
Alternatively, if you want to do it yourself and not give anyone permissions, even to public data, you can review you pages right from your profile. Doug Antkowiak at Portent.com has created a detailed tutorial on the process, which is only good for the current design of Facebook, which is notorious for updating their system, invalidating the instructions above… but for the mean time, they’re legitimate.
So whichever method you use, make sure you actually LIKE everything you “Like” on Facebook so that your face appears only in ads for things you endorse, and Graph Search doesn’t surface you as a result for something obscure or undesirable.