Current Issue
This Month's Print Issue

Follow Fast Company

We’ll come to you.

Here's How Facebook Tests Sponsored Posts

Can you tell the difference between a status and an ad? Facebook is surveying users' feeds to find out.

  • <p>Facebook recently started peppering some users' feeds with posts accompanied by a survey question that asks "How much do you agree with this statement?: This post feels like an ad."</p>
  • <p>A prompt asks the viewer to rate a post on its ad vibe, using a five-point scale from "strongly disagree" to "strongly agree."</p>
  • <p>The survey we took included posts that were obviously ads and others that were clearly regular statuses.</p>
  • <p>The purpose of the survey isn't explicit, but we imagine Facebook is looking to integrate sponsored content that feels more social and less commercial, so that users take a longer look.</p>
  • <p>Does Facebook's survey make you uncomfortable? Agree or disagree in the comments.</p>
  • 01 /16

    Facebook recently started peppering some users' feeds with posts accompanied by a survey question that asks "How much do you agree with this statement?: This post feels like an ad."

  • 02 /16

    A prompt asks the viewer to rate a post on its ad vibe, using a five-point scale from "strongly disagree" to "strongly agree."

  • 03 /16

    The survey we took included posts that were obviously ads and others that were clearly regular statuses.

  • 04 /16

    The purpose of the survey isn't explicit, but we imagine Facebook is looking to integrate sponsored content that feels more social and less commercial, so that users take a longer look.

  • 05 /16

    Does Facebook's survey make you uncomfortable? Agree or disagree in the comments.

  • 06 /16
  • 07 /16
  • 08 /16
  • 09 /16
  • 10 /16
  • 11 /16
  • 12 /16
  • 13 /16
  • 14 /16
  • 15 /16
  • 16 /16

Facebook took some heat over the weekend when New Scientist revealed that the company had secretly manipulated the feeds of more than 600,000 users for a psychological study about how positive or negative posts affected users' own emotions. But some of the social network's content-testing techniques are almost comically out in the open.

Facebook has been peppering some users' feeds with posts accompanied by a survey question: "How much do you agree with this statement? This post feels like an ad." A prompt asks the viewer to rate a post on its ad vibe, using a five-point scale from "strongly disagree" to "strongly agree." As the slideshow above demonstrates, the survey includes posts that are obviously ads and others that are clearly regular status updates; only a couple were ambiguous.

The purpose of the survey isn't explicit, but we imagine Facebook is looking to integrate sponsored content that feels more social and less commercial, so that users take a longer look. Either that, or they just came up with a novel way to get you to view a few more ads.

Does this make you uncomfortable? Agree or disagree in the comments.