Facebook changes sponsored post policies as original content declines

Facebook sponsored posts

If you find yourself unsure which parts of your Facebook feed are the real-deal posts or just conveniently placed ads, you're not alone.

Facebook announced today that it's taking new measures to point out sponsored content. That is to say, posts made by media groups, celebrities, and what the company calls "influencers" that mention specific products, brands, or sponsors.

The move is designed to distinguish these posts from those written by normal users, a.k.a. your actual friends.

The changes to Facebook's branded content and ad policies, put into effect immediately, will require certain publishers to tag sponsors in a post, similar to how users tag friends in a post or photo.

In addition to the branded content tag, Facebook is also updating its guideline to prohibit content that exhibit "overly promotional features," such as constant watermarks or pre-roll ads in a sponsored video.

The policy also bans featuring third-party brands or products in the publisher's profile picture or cover photo, instead encouraging endcards, product placement, and marketing logos used in a more sensible fashion.

The line between a buddy and a business has blurred when perusing Facebook - especially as the company just finished rolling out a feature that lets users chat it up with companies like an old high school classmate - so the clarification is certainly welcome.

Where did all the posts go?

The reining-in of sponsored content may help Facebook with one of its ongoing issues: a dwindling supply in original content.

As reported by The Information, the social network is facing a steady decline in original content as the News Feed became inundated with stolen memes, Twitter screengrabs, Vines compilations and, of course, sponsored posts.

Such are the problems when so much of your product is built on algorithms and advertisement, but Facebook's recognition of the issue could make it an easier place to browse.

I personally would have settled for banning the litany of "custom" T-shirt stores that perpetually crop on on my Feed, but this is good, too.

Parker Wilhelm
Parker Wilhelm is a freelance writer for TechRadar. He likes to tinker in Photoshop and talk people's ears off about Persona 4.