Facebook explains adverts in bid to pacify users

Facebook has quietly begun a new campaign to explain how its advertising system works, flagging up details on the system when users log into the site to check their wall. "Ever wonder how Facebook makes money?" the new banner asks, linking to Facebook's About Advertising page and several FAQs about whether the social network sells personal information and how sponsored stories are implemented.

The upfront explanation is likely a response to continued attention from regulators and privacy advocates over what information Facebook holds and shares about users. Yesterday the Irish privacy commissioner called on the social network to add better privacy controls, the recommendation coming shortly after Facebook confirmed it would be slotting adverts into the main news feed from January.

It's not the only controversy as Facebook looks to make money off of its vast user-base. Facebook's new Timeline profile style can't be turned off and will eventually be pushed out to all users whether they want it or not, and last month the company agreed to FTC privacy probes every two years for the next two decades. Even so, privacy groups were unimpressed, describing the concession as the first step rather than the solution.

Some of Facebook's advertising FAQs make for interesting reading. For instance, if you've ever wondered what happens after you click "Like" on a Facebook ad:

"[The] connection will be displayed on your profile (timeline) and your friends may receive a News Feed story about the connection. You may be displayed on the Page you connected to and in advertisements about that Page. The Page will also be able to post content into your News Feed and send you messages. You may also share this connection with apps on the Facebook Platform" Facebook

Nonetheless, Facebook points out, "you can unlike most content immediately, manage your connections on your profile, and restrict who you share your connections with in your privacy settings."