We've written before about Facebook's "Sponsored Stories" program that repackages its users' interactions with companies as ads for those companies. (Public Citizen objected when the case was settled without much benefit to the class.)
Now Facebook is apparently retiring the "Sponsored Stories" name but not the general idea. According to Facebook's blog post last week, "marketers will no longer be able to purchase sponsored stories separately; instead, social context — stories about social actions your friends have taken, such as liking a page or checking in to a restaurant — is now eligible to appear next to all ads shown to friends on Facebook." So what's the next step for marketers, according to Facebook? Well (again quoting their blog), "we gave notice to our ad partners that this change relating to sponsored stories will start in the first quarter of this year so they can update their tools and continue supporting the marketers they work with." Sounds like business as usual to me.
Not sure it's much comfort when a parent sees an image of her daughter popping up in an ad on Facebook that it's just her daughter's "Social Context" rather than a "Sponsored Story."