What Are Advertisers Allowed to Do?
As stated in Facebook's advertising policy guidelines, the photos that Facebook advertisers use must be representative of the advertisement itself and must not be misleading or include unsubstantiated claims.
This policy protects Facebook users from false or otherwise deceptive advertising claims, and it clarifies to users that the images that appear in advertisements come from an outside source.
Facebook itself deploys user information only for its self-sponsored social ads--the sidebars on your home page that notify you of certain groups or interests that people on your Friends list participate in or share. Some of the ads inform you of a public event that some of your Facebook Friends are attending; others let you know that some of your Friends have "Liked" a particular page recently.
On its advertising policy page, Facebook describes the function of social ads in greater detail: "For example, if you connect with your favorite band's page, we may display your name and profile photo next to an advertisement for that page that is displayed to your friends. We only share the personally identifiable information visible in the social ad with the friend who can see the ad."
Many Facebook third-party advertisers have managed to run successful ad campaigns without needing to expose Facebook users' information. Online dating site AstrologyDating.com has seen an astounding conversion rate to its site of 15 to 20 percent since starting a Facebook ad campaign in November 2009.
AstrologyDating.com's advertising images feature attractive people of all ages, beginning with 20-somethings in relaxed at-home settings, which AstrologyDating.com founder Hilary Young says is a strategy designed to appeal to average Facebook users whose marital status is "single."
These images reflect the type of user that the site is trying to attract. "We look for people that you would actually go out with--not necessarily people with supermodel looks, but someone who is attractive, smiling, relaxed, and in more natural settings," Young says.
For the moment, AstrologyDating.com is using stock photos in its Facebook ads--which means that you'll have a hard time getting hooked up with one of the bombshells who appear in ads promoting the service. Young says that her company changes the images often to keep its Facebook ads looking fresh and new.
Facebook encourages you to feel free to report any ad that you suspect may be violating Facebook's advertising policy or that could jeopardize your user experience. This includes ads on the site itself as well as in applications or games like Farmville.
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