Facebook to axe Sponsored Stories on 9 April

Facebook has announced it will shut down its controversial ad format – Sponsored Stories – on 9 April.

The feature, which rolled out in 2011, created a social endorsement for ads based on whether or not users had ever 'liked' the company or product. Using this data, an ad was created to showcase the endorsement and featured the person’s name and profile picture. The ad would then appear in their friends’ Facebook feeds.

However, in August last year the company was forced to shell out $20m in compensation, as well as alter its privacy policy after it emerged that it had been featuring users’ 'like' preferences in ads without their permission, raising a plethora of privacy concerns.

Now the feature will be axed altogether, but Facebook said in a blog post announcing the move that “instead, social context — stories about social actions your friends have taken, such as liking a page or checking in to a restaurant — is now eligible to appear next to all ads shown to friends on Facebook.”

Facebook explained to the Wall Street Journal that for advertisers, it will mean they can no longer purchase sponsored stories or design ads specifically to show a users’ likes or check-ins but can still put up ads in a news feed or side panel that includes people likes, providing that is not the main focus of the ad.

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