For Twitter and Facebook, two of the leading social networks today, money or revenue is primarily generated through advertising dollars. Companies and organizations pay those social networks for the so-called prime virtual estate.
On Facebook’s case, the sides of the news feed have traditionally been allocated to advertisements and some ads are now finding their way to the mainstream news feed through sponsored stories. Twitter hosts a similar environment through sponsored tweets appearing in your Tweet feed as well as sponsored hash tags and trends.
The Federal Trade Commission however has recently lambasted Facebook’s and Twitter’s allegedly lax advertising regulations. This is due to complaints from users from both social networks that it’s hard to tell the difference between legitimate retweets and shares from friends and sponsored ads from companies.
Currently, a sponsored Tweet appears like this: ”Shooting movie beach scene. Had to lose 30lbs in 6 wks. Thanks Fat-away Pills for making it easy. Typical loss: 1lb/wk. #Spon.”. The FTC, as well as most of the general population, has no idea what the hash tag #Spon means. It actually means sponsored, thus the tweet was an ad. The FTC has then ordered Twitter to place a more conspicious byline so as not to confuse readers. The word “Ad” or “Sponsored” at the beginning of such tweets was proposed.
In Facebook’s case, ads are headlined with the word Advertisement or Sponsored Stories. This is okay in Facebook’s case as it has acres of prime virtual estate as opposed to the micro blogging platform that Twitter has. Facebook however is also under fire after its recent News Feed update appears to be an expansion aimed for media-rich and graphic intensive advertising.
In any case, the FTC edict will do most of us good in distinguishing the difference of well-meaning shares from paid ads. What do you think of this latest news?