Facebook users may think twice about clicking a “like” button to a business or company page soon. Those who press the “like” button on your business page may then have those actions appearing on their friends’ pages as a “Sponsored Story” paid for by advertisers.

Using the new feature, companies and individuals can buy the right to republish those “like” actions and have them displayed in ads on the person’s page, including that person’s name and photo. The ad would only be displayed to that person’s network of friends on Facebook. This could mean greater word-of-mouth recommendations for companies by having those who like their pages promote them.

The “Sponsored Story” appears on the right side of the person’s profile page where regular ads, friend requests, or other content is usually located. It will not appear in the person’s main news feed.

It's another way for friends to tell friends what they recommend, says Facebook spokesman Brandon McCormick.

But privacy advocates don’t like the added feature, particularly since there’s no opt-out option for those who “like” your page. Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, has concerns that a company is making money off a person’s name or likeness without their consent.

Twitter offers a similar feature, called “promoted tweets,” which feature Twitter posts paid by advertisers that show up in search results and popular topic lists. However, unlike Twitter, Facebook’s sponsored stories will be generated by a user’s actions and not written by companies.

The sponsored stories feature will be rolled out on Facebook over the next few weeks. View a video with more information about it.

Source: “Privacy Advocates Don’t ‘Like’ Facebook’s Ad Plans,” USA Today (Jan. 31, 2011) and “Facebook to Let Advertisers Republish User Posts,” The Associated Press (Jan. 27, 2011)