Your Facebook timeline is changing again

I can almost hear people screaming, “What! Not again!” as Facebook is set to change the timeline view for users again. Two changes are in the works for timeline, one confirmed, another just pure speculation.

First, Facebook is removing “Sponsored Stories”. These are the stories that appear in your timeline that say things like, “Jane Doe likes Duracell” with a blocked off space and it has the cover photo, which is usually advertising for the product, and a button that says “Like” so you can like them, too. Companies pay for this placement, quite reasonably but handsomely. Unlike Google’s AdWords, which only charge you when someone clicks your link, Facebook charges you whenever your ad is placed in front of someone’s eyeballs. If that sounds harsh, remember, if you’re not paying for the product, you’re the product being sold.

If you’ve ever looked at those sponsored stories and thought, “Why does my friend like X?” You’re not alone. I often wondered who would willingly like otherwise boring products and companies like Duracell, Samsung, and BP.  It came to light over two years ago that Facebook was just taking your friends and making it appear they liked things — even friends who are now dead. This resulted in vegetarians liking McDonald’s, and people who don’t own cars liking Subaru.

From Facebook:

Facebook will sunset the creation of sponsored stories

Page post and page like ads already automatically have the best social context (likes and comments) added. You may choose to add share social context by specifying social_prefs=[‘allow_shares’] on the adgroup. Existing page post and page like sponsored stories will continue to deliver so you must support fetching them.

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.

So after April 9, you should see a cleaned up timeline. Of course, advertising is Facebook’s biggest and only revenue generator, so expect to see more ads along the sides and elsewhere. While I’m sure development never stops anyway, Facebook is said to be testing a new timeline view that adds more columns and resembles something more akin to a newspaper.

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Justin Harter

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