My Friends Are For Sale

19Apr08

Today, I logged into Facebook and saw my good friend Bertram’s image in an ad encouraging me to use the “Friends for Sale” app. Ironic, right? In today’s hot social networking world, my friends are for sale. They are used to attract millions in VC funding, major M&A deals, sold to advertisers as a built-in audience and, in the case of Facebook advertising, used as actual spokespeople for products and services.

It’s true that, in return, we get access to most communities and content on the Web for free. However, I wonder if social advertising will leave us and our friends increasingly unsatisfied. Michael Arrington had an all-too conceivable April Fools post in which he joked that he was going to sue Facebook for use of his image to push certain branded apps.

If an advertiser and Web site benefit from using Arrington or my friends’ images to ultimately bring in revenue, there will be a point where they start demanding to either not be used as spokespeople or get a cut of the revenue. I can imagine developing an AdSense-like program that shares revenue between the site, the sponsor and the user if the user offers his/her Web presence up for bid.

In any event, it is an interesting new paradigm. We have shown companies that our generation (and really all generations at this point) have a great deal of trust in “a person like ourselves.” Because of this, we’ve made our friends a lucrative new medium to reach us with marketing messages.

In any event, I do have to say that I think Arrington has a legitimate case to sue for a lot of $$ considering most of the times I log into Facebook, I see his image used to convince me to check out 27 Dresses on Blockbuster’s FB app ;) I’m thinking that’s an endorsement he didn’t sign up for.

Image from Facebook.

-Amanda Mooney

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