Facebook display ads will soon sport the advertising industry's AdChoices icon, allowing users to opt out of the behaviorally targeted ads that appear on the site, but unlike on other sites, the icon might be hard to spot.
The move by Facebook is in response to complaints from consumers who demand more transparency from the social networking giant.
The blue-and-white triangular AdChoices icon, created by the Digital Advertising Alliance to let people know when ads are targeting them, are expected to pop up on ads in the Facebook Exchange by the end of the first quarter, according to Adweek
The Exchange is a new platform that allows third parties to target Facebook users with relevant ads. Say, for example, a person posts a photo of a birthday gift on their wall and says "Gold bracelet from husband." One of their Facebook friends "likes" the photo. The friend might then start seeing "Cash for Gold" ads on their Facebook sidebar.
The Advertising Self-Regulatory Council reached out to Facebook in November and urged the company to get involved with the AdChoices program.
"This is a huge step forward for recognition of the icon because there are so many Facebook users that are interactive with the site," Genie Barton, vice president and director of ASRC's online behavioral advertising accountability program, told Adweek. "We want 100 percent industry compliance. If we have less than that, it's a problem."
Facebook will participate in the program a little differently from other websites, though. Rather than appearing directly on the Exchange page, the AdChoices icon will only show up if a user hovers their mouse over the small, gray "x" shown above the ads on Facebook's right rail. Even the "x" only appears when someone mouses over it, so people not familiar with the feature won't always be made aware that an ad was being targeted to them.
Controversy surrounding Facebook's "Sponsored Story" ads sparked a class-action lawsuit in 2011.
According to the lawsuit, the ads publicized Facebook users' names and photos in "Sponsored Stories" in friends' news feed based on users "likes." The ads, however, didn't always reflect what users actually liked.
The case was settled in December, when Facebook and plaintiff lawyers agreed on a cash payment of up to $10 for some users, from a $20 million total settlement fund.
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