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November 19, 2012

Would You Let a Company Impersonate You on Facebook?

Filed under: Internet,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 5:28 am

Lowe’s just sent out an email to shoppers on its mailing list inviting them to participate in its “Black Friday Showdown.” Doing so will give you an opportunity to preview 16 Black Friday specials and win them if you “like” Lowe’s on Facebook.

Lowe's Black Friday

Sure, why not, thought MrConsumer.

Upon reaching their Facebook page, you discover that not only does Lowe’s want a “like” in exchange for your chance at winning all those prizes, they also want to install a Facebook app that will let them post messages as if they were you on Facebook.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Lowe's Facebook app

Excuse me? You want me to allow you to probably send advertisements about Lowe’s to my friends but make it seem like I wrote those messages? I don’t think so. You can keep your 16 prizes.

On closer scrutiny of their Facebook page, however, there is a way to have your cake and eat it too.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Lowe's posting exclusion

Many people may have overlooked it, as did MrConsumer, but there is an option to control to whom the Lowe’s app would send their advertisements. As shown above, it defaults to sending those incognito ads to all your friends. However, you can change the setting so that Lowe’s only sends them to just you.

Mouse Print* asked Lowe’s to comment on their use of this questionable means of advertising, and here their response:

Lowe’s is not posting on behalf of the user without the user taking action and opting to share information. If a customer chooses to not share, then the app will not post any information on behalf of the customer. It is completely user initiated.

Lowe’s Facebook app and its ability to communicate is done in the same format as many other apps like it and is compliant within Facebook’s terms and services. The app notifies a user before they install it that it will post on content. However, it is important to note that the customer at that point has the ability to adjust who within their network will see the post. For example, it can be adjusted by the consumer so that no one can see any posts from this app should they choose. Again – this is standard protocol used by many brands.

To be clear, the only time the app actually does post is when the user chooses to ‘share’ their winning product on their Facebook wall. It will not post automatically. — Public Relations Manager, Lowe’s

This type of advertising just seems like it is overreaching.

In fact, similar invasions are becoming commonplace not just on Facebook, but when you download free apps to your smartphone. See Exposing Your Personal Informatio​n – There’s An App for That .

• • •

11 Comments

  1. I just wonder how facebook compares these application to spam. According to their TOS one can not send spam out. This app does exactly that . . . post unsolicited adds on your behalf. This is not the first giveaway to do this, almost all contest and many giveaways want the same rights… to post on your behalf. Facebook is slowly becoming marketing tool of big business.

    Comment by Joe — November 19, 2012 @ 10:31 am
  2. I often use the “only me” settings on fb apps, especially on the news apps – I don’t need people seeing what I read, especially if it’s a weird or off-color article.

    Comment by Amber — November 19, 2012 @ 11:10 am
  3. Here is ANOTHER reason NOT to go over to the ‘dark side’ (FB). But I am curious as to what the 16 prizes are?

    Comment by Gert — November 19, 2012 @ 12:17 pm
  4. Or just create a fake account and use that to ‘like’ them?
    — me

    Comment by me — November 19, 2012 @ 1:37 pm
  5. Joe says “Facebook is slowly becoming marketing tool of big business.” To which my only reaction is, “Slowly?”

    Comment by Richard — November 19, 2012 @ 2:00 pm
  6. Sounds like it’s a limitation in Facebook’s API. If you want to impersonate the user under any circumstances, you need to get permission during app installation, even if your app has logic to ask you later. It’s the same thing on smart phones where an app has to declare it will ever use your location/network/etc even if it’s completely voluntary and it will prompt you every time.

    Now is there room for abuse? Sure, but it’s not the app writer’s fault that the granularity required is not available to them.

    (I am a mobile developer and therefore experience this firsthand. I don’t steal your location info, honest)

    Comment by Boris — November 19, 2012 @ 3:32 pm
  7. ew: Joe and Richard
    Isn’t being a marketing tool (i.e. selling your personal data) what FB is all about? Now that other companies are getting in on the action, people seem to be getting concerned. Too little, too late

    Comment by BobL — November 19, 2012 @ 4:24 pm
  8. But what about brands that do it all by themselves? Without any permission? Samsung Galaxy has my husband liking their brand. My husband has an iphone so I don’t think he’s interested in their phone. And it is so annoying to see that because it’s lie.

    Comment by Pat Rochester — November 20, 2012 @ 12:49 am
  9. Pretty much every Facebook app does this, not just Lowes. I believe in the past I have allowed these permissions, but my friends have never received spam from me. I dunno. I just don’t ‘like’ things unless I really do like them. Then I don’t mind that particular brand posting on my behalf because I support them. If I don’t support them, I don’t allow them permissions.

    Comment by Laura — November 21, 2012 @ 8:10 am
  10. Some Twitter apps are the same way. Reading through, you see “We post tweets for you” or words to that effect. That’s when I click OFF. Good or bad, my tweets & FB are MINE alone. They will remain that way!

    Comment by Sunny — November 26, 2012 @ 11:42 am
  11. Since you are paying so much money for facebook access, this on the surface seems like overreaching. But wait — you mean you DON’T pay for facebook access?

    Oh, I get it! LOWE’S and others are paying for you to have free access? Then they should be allowed to offer such incentives and apps to promote their business.

    That’s the trade-off.

    Comment by Ken — November 29, 2012 @ 5:37 am

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