Dear Facebook,

Yesterday, as I was checking my news feed, one of the posts made me sit up in my seat. According to you, my cousin now LIKES an internet wine company from one of your ads.

Facebook, what you obviously don't know, is that my cousin is dead. He died this past summer (2012).

Now granted, when my cousin was alive, he certainly liked his share of photos of beautiful models in swim suits. I'd occasionally find one of them waiting in my news feed with his firm endorsement of her shapely ... assets.

So, if the specific ad my cousin had endorsed had been related in some way to pinup girls, I might not have given it a second thought. Perhaps he'd endorsed it sometime in the last year, and you, Facebook, were simply recycling his Like.

But, Facebook, what you also don't know is that my cousin was a recovering alcoholic.

So a wine company? Really?

I had serious doubts, but since I figured it was time to let my cousin's FB presence go as we had his body here on earth, I unfriended his phantom account.

And yet the ad remained in my news feed, except without the ghostly endorsement. Exactly in the same spot in my news feed as it was before. Whatever algorithms you use, Facebook, had erased all presence of my cousin, just like that. And if you could remove someone so easily from an ad, it made me start to wonder ... could you also add someone like me just as easily as you had a dead man.

I posted a message to my wall, telling my friends what had happened. I also asked them if I had ever liked a company in an ad on their news feed.

Another (living) relative wrote back: "You've liked Walmart several times."


Freakin' - A - WALMART??!!!

Now, here's something you also don't know, Facebook. In the history of my time on your service, I have only once liked a national company, or anything approaching a company that would advertise on your site.

And let me assure you that if I ever did again, over my dead body would I ever, EVER endorse a sleazy company like Walmart!

What will be next, Facebook? What other companies and groups that I abhore will my FB phantom self endorse next? The Tea Party? Fox News? Oil Companies?

Your service is free, Facebook, so I expect to be exposed to ads. You have to make money somehow, I get that. But this ... this shows that you see your user base as nothing more than chattel, to be used however you see fit.

Not only is it false advertising. It is despicable, and it must stop.


Mike D. Jones

lineatus down stream has an interesting suggestion (Thanks, lineatus!). FB may be finding people with the same name as your friend, who HAS liked the product/company in question. So, technically, I suppose they'd be covering their ass. But the end result is the same since their goal is the endorsement of the product/company by someone you do (or think you do) know.

Some commentors have suggested hacked accounts, or wondered why you wouldn't know if you were liking something. As a web developer by profession, it's much easier than that. Facebook knows the power of recommended products. It's a well-known marketing dynamic that people will consider products that are recommended by people they know. Facebook is merely tapping into that dynamic for these ads, and by doing so you're more likely to investigate a "liked" product or company.  They don't have to do anything to your account or modify your recorded "likes". They just have to know who your friends' names are and use that data in their ads.

Update 1: Wow!  Thanks for the Reclist everyone!

As some people point out in the comments. Despite its behavior, FB is still a useful tool for many of us. I feel like I need to do something, though, so each day I'm going to post to my page the names of friends with sponsored likes and see how many of them are legit. I'm also going to encourage my friends to do the same. If we take away the power that "endorsements" have on these ads by showing them to be a fraud, then they won't be of any use to FB.

Your Email has been sent.