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Facebook to cull sponsored stories this April

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Facebook’s troubled and controversial sponsored stories feature will breathe its last as the social networking giant has decided to cull it this April.

In a platform roadmap update, Facebook revealed that it will “sunset the creation of sponsored stories”. “Domain and open graph sponsored stories will no longer be allowed to be created”, noted Facebook in a blog post.

“Existing domain and open graph sponsored stories will cease to have delivery after April 9th”, it added.

Facebook has had a lot of trouble with the feature, which it launched back in 2011. Sponsored stories first appeared on sidebar and then the ticker alongside the activities of users’ friends and family. These stories or ads showcased how a user’s Facebook friends interacted with a sponsored page, app or event. For example, if one of your friends ‘likes’ a particular company’s Facebook page or checks into a cafe or a restaurant, his / her action and profile picture would appear as an advertisement in your feed.

Facebook had to shell out $20 million in settlement for a class-action lawsuit which was brought upon it because of the sponsored stories. Facebook also agreed that it will give users more control over how they share the content.

Plaintiffs claimed that Facebook “improperly uses the names, photographs, likenesses, and identities of plaintiffs to generate substantial profits” for itself through the stories feature. The plaintiffs claimed that Facebook used its US members as marketers, “but without any compensation.”