Can Facebook use my name and profile picture in ads?

Security

If you are a Facebook member and like a Facebook page and/or mention a Facecbook page in a wall update, Facebook can use your name and possibly your picture in ads that are shown to your friends.

In fact, your name might be appearing in Facebeook ad now saying that you like a certain brand. Facebook opts everyone into Facebook Ads. And you probably know that because you’ve read Facebook’s Statement of Rights and Responsibilities so carefully

You can opt-out of letting Facebook use your name or profile picture  in ads served to your friends by going to Account.


Then Account Settings.

Click Facebook Ads.

Scroll all the way to the bottom and for “Show my social actions in Facebook Ads to”, select “No one”.

What do these ads look like?

Usually they look like this:

Your name and picture can also appear in Sponsored Stories.

According to Facebook, “Sponsored Stories are stories that your friends published into your News Feed. These show up on the right hand side of pages on Facebook. The types of stories that can be surfaced include: Page Likes, App interactions, Place check-ins and Page posts.”

TL;DR? You’ll only appear in a Sponsored Story if you mention a Facebook page using Facebook’s mention tool (which works like a Twitter mention: you type @username.)

You probably haven’t seen too many Sponsored Stories because the mention took isn’t used all that often. And when it is, it might be used sarcastically to make a point. Like: @Starbucks parking lot is full again. I may have to go back to @No-Doz. You can only mention a page or profile you like using this method, which is good because that means you’ve, in a way, opted in twice to any brand that can use your image in Sponsored Stories.

Background

Facebook has used users’ names in ads for a while. Sponsored Stories launched  in early 2011. This seemed to rekindle a Facebook meme where Facebook users complain to each other about how Facebook uses our name and image in ads.

We recently shared a link that stirred some controversy: “How to Stop Facebook from Using Your Name and Profile Photo in Facebook Ads.” From the reaction we saw, it seemed that many people needed a reminder about Facebook’s ad policies. However, one user suggested that we were being alarmist and participating in a meme that could be use to drive spam or even spam apps.

To be clear: Facebook isn’t allowing third-parties to use your name and picture in your ad.

But they may soon, which is why this setting already exists.

To change that setting now, go to

Account.


Then Account Settings.

Click Facebook Ads.

At the top of the page in the section “Ads shown by third-party applications” where is says “Allow ads on platform pages to show my information to” select “No one”.

Now if Facebook starts letting third-parties use our names and images in ads, your name and image will not be used.

Why should I turn Facebook Ads off?

In a sense, Facebook is already allowing third-parties access to your life and identity. You pick who you advertise–the pages you like—and to whom—your friends. But you can’t exclude certain pages or friends. Nor do you share in any of the ad revenue.

A good and bad thing is that only your friends will ever see you in ads. But do you want your boss to see you endorsing an alcohol product in the middle of a work day? Do you want your mother-in-law to know you ‘liked’ Justin Bieber as a joke? It could happen if you don’t opt out.

Why should I leave Facebook ads on?

Do you love Facebook and want to support their revenue growth?

Or maybe you love the pages you interact with and appreciate a subtle way to spread the word. You could enjoy being exposed what your friends like and see this as a new way to interact. Or do you just not care very much about what your Facebook activity says about you?

Leave it on!

The fact is Tivo and ad-blockers have given us a way to avoid many of the advertisements that subsidize free content and services. Yet millions of us like brands on Facebook or follow them on Twitter. It seems many people don’t mind getting information from a brand, they just want control over what they see and how their identity can be used to market  a product.

It doesn’t matter if you opt in or Facebook ads, what matters is that you make a conscious choice.

And when it comes to your image being used to endorse products to your friends, Facebook has made that choice for you. Is this another feature that one should have to opt-in to? I think so. Is it annoying enough to make me quit Facebook? I think Facebook is well aware that the answer to that question is “No.”

Cheers,

Jason

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17 Comments

I think if facebook is going to use our name and/or likeness — regardless of privacy settings — for ads then we should be getting paid for advertising.

You are getting paid Michael! They allow you to use their servers for your own purposes for “free”

Hi folks,
thank you so much for this information. I found problems on my Fb-site last Sunday and was thinking of leaving Facebook for good. A kind of virus was trying to catch my profile and might have destroyed some of my data. After reading your security instructions I am most confident and might even keep my Fb-profile for a while. But for sure I´m letting my friends to know these security instructions as well. Thank you, F-secure, you are doing a good job. It was nice to get to know you some 5 years ago…. 🙂
Best wishes,
Laura H. Juvonen
Helsinki, Finland

This would be good in principle. But only if used ethically and appropriately.

For a mo, I thought I was in with a chance of free promotion ….

Thank you for this detailed information

[…] that they have to be complex? Both answers are true. Some features—like facial recognition, using your identity in ads and Instant Personalization—are, I believe, purposely hidden. Others just naturally are buried to […]

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