free html hit counter Looky Here, It's Me, In an Ad, On Facebook! Is This Legal? Allowed? Who Knows?! - John Battelle's Search Blog

Looky Here, It's Me, In an Ad, On Facebook! Is This Legal? Allowed? Who Knows?!

By - July 24, 2011

john in fb ad.pngIn the past 12 hours, about ten friends (and counting) have sent me a copy of this ad on Facebook for a company called “AppSumo.” I have nearly 5000 “friends” on Facebook, a problem I’ve written about in the past, but seeing this ad threw me.

Apparently, this is *not* part of Facebook’s social ads, where people can buy ads targeting friends of particular people on third party sites – after all, this appears on Facebook.com. And those ads can only use my profile picture, which that pic is most definitely not (it was my author photo for my last book). Also, apparently, I have the ability to turn this off in my Facebook settings. However, since I am essentially “Facebook bankrupt” and have never really figured out how to fix that fact, I have never visited my “ad” settings.

Now I have. Here’s what settings says about ads using my name and picture:

Ads shown by third parties

Facebook does not give third party applications or ad networks the right to use your name or picture in ads. If we allow this in the future, the setting you choose will determine how your information is used.”
So this AppSumo use seems to be a pretty clear violation, no? I mean, it’s not allowed, right? Or is it that they are *not* a third party application or ad network, but rather, something else? Here’s a pic of my current settings, which again, says Facebook does not allow this, but “if we do in the future…” my settings would apply.
Screen shot 2011-07-24 at 3.39.33 PM.png
Is the future now? How can AppSumo target just my friends, without Facebook helping?
I’ve asked Facebook. And if anyone from “AppSumo” is out there, can you please tell me what this is about and how you did this? And where you got that picture, because, that’s not my Facebook profile picture….and it’s owned by a photographer, not by you….
Oh, and who wrote the copy? I mean, “Do you love John Battelle?” Migod…..One note…perhaps this is OK because I also have a Facebook “fan page” which makes me a “Facebook public figure?” I dunno. Any thoughts out there? Does AppSumo owe me (and the photographer) a cut?!
Update: Couple things. First, this is clearly not the first time that AppSumo has pulled this stuff. Matt Mullenweg pointed me to this story about them doing a similar thing with Tim Ferris. Second, Facebook has responded to me, agrees this is abuse, and is working with me to resolve the issue. Thanks Facebook and Matt!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

17 thoughts on “Looky Here, It's Me, In an Ad, On Facebook! Is This Legal? Allowed? Who Knows?!

  1. George says:

    I didn’t know them until I responded to their 2nd or 3rd ad on HARO’s main list this week.

    The piece was for building out Google Docs, but mentioned no celebrities, authors or celebrated authors. I ended up on their ebook / app mail list, but it really hasn’t been a bother yet.

    Good luck unraveling the mystery. Seen a lot with Rand Fishkin all over too, but I have no idea if it’s the same company.

    Certainly seems like a tacit endorsement especially since the image isn’t on your fan page. I’m all for targeting fan page followers, but with an image of my product or service, not the person.

  2. Victoria says:

    Hi John, This is a paid Facebook Ad by AppSumo who market daily deals on digital products.
    They have used a cheeky strategy to leverage your fans.
    When you produce a Facebook Ad, there are no copyright checks on images used, and they have swiped your image and are also using your name as a Keyword Target for the ad (this is possible if you have more than a few thousand fans).
    All you need to do is complain to Facebook with an email to their ad department and they’ll disapprove the ad.
    You can also email AppSumo and ask them to take the ad down, which I’m sure they will straight away.
    I never use any images that I don’t have copyright approval, but you’re right that it is a grey area on Facebook.
    Must have been weird for you to see it!

  3. Derek says:

    You should briefly explain this on your fan page, and ask fans to go to this link, look for the offensive ad, and mark it as “misleading”.

    http://www.facebook.com/ads/adboard

    Can’t imagine it would have to get marked too many times before Facebook reevaluates it.

  4. John says:

    Thanks. I will tell folks. I think by Monday, I hope…AppSumo will realize their tactics are not worth continuing. Apparently they have done this in the past. Then apologized, as if…well, it’s shady and it’s wrong.

  5. Ryan says:

    Hi John. The use of your photo for non-editorial, commercial purposes like this (i.e. directly promoting a product or service) is definitely not legal without the advertising having obtained 1. a model release from you and 2. a license to the image from the photographer. No question about it. Happy to chat more about photo licensing any time. Cheers!

  6. Michael says:

    AppSumo is notorious for pulling shit like this, and it wouldn’t put it past them to continue likewise after this particular ad is taken down. Based on what I’ve seen/experienced, they seem to believe that any advertising is good advertising, and controversy is a quicker fire for their name recognition spreading than the merits of their services offered. Most unfortunately, your mention of them in the post is helping them and indirectly encouraging these kind of tactics.

  7. Michael says:

    AppSumo is notorious for pulling shit like this, and I wouldn’t put it past them to continue after this particular ad is taken down. They’ll get away with it more than they won’t. Based on what I’ve seen/experienced, they seem to believe that any advertising is good advertising, and controversy is a quicker fire for their name recognition spreading than the merits of their services offered. Most unfortunately, your mention of them in the post is helping them and indirectly encouraging these kind of tactics.

  8. Sean says:

    Just complain to Facebook – I wouldn’t tell anyone about it – just gives the evildoers more clicks – which just might be the point.

  9. Gremlin says:

    Okay. Noted. If I see an advert for AppSumo.com, I’ll click on it to cost them money; then I won’t do anything to get them their money back.

    If that’s the negative advertising they wanted, then they can win.

  10. Bill says:

    I’m assuming you’re in the US. Is it legal to appropriate your image for marketing purposes there? It would be actionable here in New Zealand.

    Do you know a good lawyer who would work for a cut of the take?

  11. Bertil says:

    I don’t see a reaction from AppSumo. Are you waiting for them to comment?

  12. John says:

    I am waiting, in a way, to see if AppSumo responds. I’d like to hear what they have to say. Meanwhile, Facebook did get back to me and I’ll be filling out the abuse form and they have promised to work with me on this.

  13. Noah says:

    Hey John

    Noah Kagan from AppSumo here. I’m writing this from a campground in Bozeman, Montana (I’m on vacation).

    Really sorry about this experience for you, not a great way to enjoy your Sunday.

    All advertisements were stopped immediately yesterday.

    The short of it: I asked our ad agency to target people who’s fans I thought would like what we have to offer. I wasn’t expecting either them to use your likeness, etc…I was surprised to see your face on an ad too!

    Regarding the Tim incident that was an accident on our part and nothing deceptive we were trying to do.

    Sincerely,
    -Noah

  14. Laura says:

    Surprised ad copy and content isn’t checked by a company, Noah. You may want to add that in to your “how to start a company” spiel.

  15. John says:

    Thanks Noah. I must say, blaming your agency (which agency?) is a bit…weak.

  16. Jim says:

    You know how it is John, It’s always easier to ask for forgiveness than to ask for permission!

  17. Anonymous says:

    So beautiful posts,all I like,hope to be better then,and enjoy yourself,good luck in your life.Thanks for your ideas to something. Die Steel