For years, consumers have been warned to read the fine print in any kind of financial transaction.
The idea was that big companies often buried anti-consumer clauses in the middle of lengthy documents that were written in an impossible to understand legalese printed in small, almost impossible to read type. Then they would spring a “gotcha” on the unwary consumer.
A few years ago, in an effort to help consumers, the federal government stepped in and forced companies to use simplified language in their consumer contracts.
Well, apparently Facebook and Google haven’t gotten the message, while other Internet sites are trying to shift the balance of power back to the consumer.
Suppose you click the Facebook “like” button for a product or service. Pretty soon, all of your friends will get an advertisement, with your picture, promoting the product or service. The ad will make it look like you are making a personal endorsement.
Google is planning to soon go a step further and turn your favorable comments into endorsements that target your friends. After all, a recent survey found that 84 percent of Internet users trust recommendations from people they know.
Something else that is interesting here: I did a Google search for the terms “Facebook” “ads” and “like.” I had to scroll through 11 ads for how to use Facebook to make money before I came to three articles detailing how these so-called “social ads” work.
Fortunately, there are Internet sites that will tell you how to change your program settings and opt out of the ads.
But instead of forcing us to opt out, I wonder if Facebook and Google would be willing to provide an “opt-in” feature whereby they wouldn’t be allowed to use our comments unless we told them it was OK. Don’t count on that any time soon.