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Facebook will use your photograph in advertisements unless you change an account setting?

Published Jun 5, 2012

Claim:   Facebook will use your photograph in advertisements unless you change an account setting.


Example:   [Collected via Facebook, May 2012]

On Friday, FACEBOOK will start using your photos in ads that appear on the profile of your contacts. It is legal and what is listed when you open an account. To prevent this do the following: Go to "Account Settings", click on "Facebook Ads" down everything on your left, then click "Advertisement for 3rd Parties" and choose No One.


Origins:   This May 2012 warning to Facebook users that the social networking site may be using their photographs in advertisements is a slightly changed version of a similar item that originally circulated back in March 2011:

FACEBOOK ARE UP TO NO GOOD AGAIN... Starting Friday, Facebook will start using your photos in ads that will appear on the profile page of your contacts. It`s legal and is mentioned in the fine print when you create your account. To stop this do the following: Go to Account, ...Account Settings, then click on Facebook Ads (tab) choose "No one" on the drop-down menu and save change

This earlier version referred to the introduction of Facebook's social ads, a promotional device that creates advertisements displayed to Facebook users informing them which of their friends have "liked" a page connected to a particular company's goods or services (e.g., "John and three of your other friends like M&Ms"):

Many companies pay Facebook to generate these automated ads when a user clicks to "like" their brands or references them in some other way.

Facebook users agree to participate in the ads halfway through the site's 4,000-word terms of service, which they consent to when they sign up. Users do not always realize that the links and "likes" they post on Facebook can be deployed for marketing purposes.

Facebook provides the following information about its social ads:

Everyone wants to know what their friends like. That's why we pair ads and friends — an easy way to find products and services you're interested in, based on what your friends share and like.

Here are the facts:

  • Social ads show an advertiser's message alongside actions you have taken, such as liking a Page

  • Your privacy settings apply to social ads

  • We don't sell your information to advertisers

  • Only confirmed friends can see your actions alongside an ad

  • If a photo is used, it is your profile photo and not from your photo albums

The message circulated in March 2011 did provide accurate information about how Facebook users could prevent their profile information from appearing in such ads, but the May 2012 version of this warning doesn't appear to be referencing any new Facebook development. It seems to have been triggered by the wording of an account setting which, according to Facebook, has been misinterpreted:

There is a false rumor circulating that Facebook is changing how your photos are used.

Facebook does not give third party applications or ad networks the right to use your name or picture in ads. If we allow this in the future, the setting you choose will determine how your information is used.

You may see social context on third party sites, including in ads, through Facebook social plugins. Although social plugins enable you to have a social experience on a third party site, Facebook does not share your information with the third party sites hosting the social plugins.

Last updated:   5 June 2012


    Hof, Robert.   "Facebook 'Social Ads' are For Real."

    Forbes.   14 September 2011.

    Sengupta, Somini.   "On Facebook, 'Likes' Become Ads."

    The New York Times.   31 May 2012.

David Mikkelson founded the site now known as snopes.com back in 1994.