Want CNET to notify you of price drops and the latest stories?

How Facebook is injecting politics into your news feed

A new Facebook feature may cause you serious headaches by posting sneaky political posts from organizations you've "liked" under your name -- without your consent.

Charles Cooper Former Executive Editor / News
Charles Cooper was an executive editor at CNET News. He has covered technology and business for more than 25 years, working at CBSNews.com, the Associated Press, Computer & Software News, Computer Shopper, PC Week, and ZDNet.
Charles Cooper
2 min read

Next time you decide to share a link, a post, or a photo on Facebook, take a breath and reflect before hitting the publish button -- and read this doozy of a post by ZDNet's Ed Bott concerning a new feature on the social network that could unexpectedly affect your reputation.

Bott notes that Facebook automatically publishes posts from organizations you've "liked" under your name and puts them at the top of the News feed for friends. That's already sort of strange, even given how sharing is the lifeblood of the social network.

But as Bott notes, some of these posts may well also include controversial political content that you wouldn't choose to put out there -- say, political petitions opposed to or supporting Obamacare:

I've found more than a dozen examples of similar "sharing." I spoke with five individuals who supposedly shared posts in this format. All of them said they had done nothing to trigger these posts. If you actively share a link, a post, or a photo, you expect that shared item to go out to your friends immediately. In this case, however, the posts are going out under your name because at some point in the past (in some cases in the distant past) you visited a page and clicked Like.

Yes, you voluntarily Liked that page and made it part of your Facebook profile. If a Facebook friend wants to go through your list of Likes, they can learn that you like the NRA or PETA or a seemingly innocuous group that you probably didn't realize was funded by Karl Rove's political action committee.

Facebook's response? It's not a bug; it's a feature:

"To help people find new Pages, events, and other interesting information, people may now see posts from a Page a friend likes," says the company. "These posts will include the social context from your friends who like the Page and will respect all existing settings."

Unfortunately, that's not the end of it. Bott notes that if you're on the receiving end of these messages, good luck stopping them from appearing in your News feed. Blocking individual stories as they appear is one thing, "but you can't block the page from posting again, and again, and again. And even if you remove the friend completely from your news feed, the forcibly shared posts appear. The only way to stop it is to unfriend the person whose Facebook identity is being misused."

Fun times.