Facebook's Embarrassing Lube Ad Reminds Us to Be Careful What We Post

"What are you going to do with all this lube?! Wrestling match? Biggest adult party ever? If you are looking for a simply jaw-dropping amount of lube, Passion Natural Water-Based Lubricant is ready to get the fun started with this 55 gallon drum!"

So begins the greatly entertaining Amazon product description for this 55-gallon container of water-based lubricant that you can purchase for a mere $1,500 (currently on sale from $2,750!). The actual product info is funny enough, but the customer reviews are, if you'll excuse the term, the real money shot.

It's the sort of thing I'd post on Facebook for a laugh, and that's exactly what Nick Bergus did. Unfortunately, somewhere along the line someone—presumably Amazon—took the joke seriously, and turned his post into a sponsored story.

In other words, Nick Bergus is now the unwilling spokesperson for a giant tub of lube. Oh, FACEBOOK. 

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If you're not familiar with sponsored stories, they're posts that someone (usually a business) has paid to highlight so there’s a better chance you’ll see them. As an example: Your friend Jim "likes" Starbucks' page, and Starbucks pays for this information to be displayed at the top of your news feed or on on the righthand side of your screen in the hopes that you'll see it and think, "Hey, I should like Starbucks too! Also, I could really go for a Frappuccino right about now!"

So Bergus posted the lube link to Facebook (along with the comment, "A 55-gallon drum of lube on Amazon. For Valentine's Day. And every day. For the rest of your life."), and a week later, the post had turned into an advertisement showing up regularly in his friends' feeds.


It certainly makes you think twice about those sponsored stories, wouldn't you say? As Bergus wrote,

I’m partially amused that Amazon is paying for this, but I’m also sorta annoyed. Of course Facebook is happily selling me out to advertisers. That’s its business. That’s what you sign up for when make an account. But in the context of a sponsored story, some of the context in which it was a joke is lost, and I’ve started to wonder how many people now see me as the pitchman for a 55-gallon drum of lube.

Virtually anything you do on Facebook can be highlighted for sponsored story, whether you like a page, comment on a page's post, RSVP for an event, vote in a poll, check into a location, play a game, or share a link. You can't opt out of being featured in a sponsored story, either, although you can tweak your activity so only certain people see it.

I've always maintained that there's no such thing as privacy on Facebook—if you post something, you better be okay with it being seen by the world. However, having the context of what you posted altered by Facebook is another thing entirely. There's a pretty big difference between sharing a funny link . . . and potentially being seen as the person who endorses the product on the other end.

Would you be mad if Facebook turned something you linked as a joke into a sponsored story?

Image via Facebook

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