Facebook is bidding goodbye to its troubled Sponsored Stories advertising campaign. In a blog post, the social network said that “domain and open graph sponsored stories will no longer be allowed to be created. Existing domain and open graph sponsored stories will cease to have delivery after April 9th.”
Sponsored Stories began in 2011 and placed ads in a user’s newsfeed with indications that a particular product or service had been “liked” by friends. However, Facebook quickly got into trouble as a class action lawsuit was filed that year alleging that Facebook was using people’s names and pictures without consent to push advertisers’ products. Facebook basically made its users into unpaid spokespeople for the ads on its site.
That suit was settled earlier this year with the social network paying out $20 million to settle the case. That wasn’t a huge amount, either for Facebook or for the millions of users once it was divided between them all, but it was yet another black eye for the social network on user privacy. The company has struggled to find a balance between giving users the privacy they want and finding a way to use them to generate ad revenue. Though it’s closing the book on Sponsored Stories, don’t expect Facebook to stop trying to monetize its user base.