Soon You Won't Be Able to Buy Sponsored Stories on Facebook

This spring, Facebook is pulling the plug on one of its most highly-contested advertising initiatives.

In a blog post, the company announced that "sponsored stories" -- which appear in users' feeds whenever a friend happens to "like" or check into a sponsored page or location -- will no longer be available for purchase as of April 9.

While endorsement by familiar sources was the draw of "sponsored stories" for advertisers, many users took issue with their names and profile photos unwittingly appearing in ads. In 2011, Facebook settled a class action lawsuit regarding the matter for $20 million.

But the company is far from abandoning the concept of ads that pull from friendship networks. Though "sponsored stories" are no longer available for purchase, ads comprising social endorsement will simply be absorbed into the other kinds of ads for sale on Facebook.

"Marketers will no longer be able to purchase sponsored stories separately," the company explained in a statement. "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."

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