In a story first brought to light by Minneapolis-based developer Craig Condon and given further credence by Forbes Magazine, a troubling aspect of Facebook’s Related Posts has been discovered. Facebook seems to be taking the liberty to use ‘liked’ content in order to promote Related Posts on the Timelines of that user’s friends. For instance, Condon cites an example where he liked the media company VICE, known for their edgy content, and then a crude story showed up (full disclosure: it was about penis-shaped waffles) on his mom’s timeline with the tag “Craig Condon Likes VICE.” Of course, Condon did like VICE, but he didn’t like the Related Post that Facebook automatically attached to his name.
“This goes beyond just advertising on a user’s behalf,” Condon said. “My friends and family might think I like inappropriate content, or information I don’t agree with – it can damage relationships. In fact, I’m only familiar with this issue because a friend asked if I liked ‘penis shaped waffles’.”
Facebook is saying that these unexpected posts are merely “Related” to what a user Liked, though it still appears the user is posting or sharing the content themselves. The site has staunchly defended its questionable Like practices before, insisting that many Likes that users are unaware of are the result of accidental clicks on mobile devices. Still, in cases like Condon’s, there is no explanation for how someone could become the unwitting spokesperson for a story, link or comment they have never seen.
Below is a YouTube video created by Condon to showcase his findings:
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