Norway Accuses Facebook of Spam for Ads in the News Feed

It believes Facebook should be treated no different than email

Facebook is trying everything to start making some serious money. Revenue is on the rise, though maybe not as fast as Facebook would like. The more recent experiments are also the boldest and the most troublesome.

The site has been experimenting with ads that rely on user behavior, for example linking a page, which is then showcased to friends.

People are much more likely to click on an ad for a page or brand their friends liked on Facebook.

More recently, Facebook has started introducing these ads into the newsfeed, though this is an experiment the company says.

It also introduced promoted posts, a way for regular users to make sure their posts get seen by more people than they would naturally be.

Now, Norway's consumer watchdog is starting to fight back against this practice, equating it with spam. It believes that these entries in a user's feed are unwanted and as such can be considered similar to spam email.

Spam is illegal in Europe as it is in most civilized places. As such, The Norwegian Consumer Ombudsman forwarded a letter to the European Commission over Facebook's practices.

For its part, Facebook says all of its ads are non-invasive and that if some ad unit proves to be annoying to users, it's in its best interest too to change it.

"We believe Facebook to be covered by the same rules that apply to advertising provided directly by e-mail and text messages. It is not lawful unless the recipient has consented to it," Petter Ravne Bugten, director of ICT at the Consumer Ombudsman to Adresseavisen, said.

"Promoted posts is a new ad format we are now testing," Frida Löwengren, a spokesperson for Facebook, responded.

"The user experience is important to us, and that's why we test what works. The user should not be disturbed too much by advertisements, so we have placed some limitations on the number of ads posted. We get negative reactions, we develop something else," she said.

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