Facebook Refutes FT.com, Says Nothing New for Advertisers at Developer Conference

Facebook’s PR team spent the wee hours of the morning today scrambling to walk back a Financial Times article that said the social site would begin offering behavioral targeting. The Palo Alto, CA-based Internet company refuted the FT.com piece that ran over the weekend stating data would be collected for advertising purposes from the new “Like” button.

FT.com originally reported that the data would be used to enhance the profile-based targeting already employed by Facebook advertisers. Citing “some marketers” in the article, it said the initiative would be announced at the social site’s developer conference, f8, which kicks off on Wednesday. The U.K.-based newspaper later updated the article to essentially retract those statements.

Here’s an e-mail Facebook’s communications department sent to numerous publications like ClickZ at around 3 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time: You might have seen the Financial Times story that incorrectly suggested that Facebook is launching behavioral ad targeting at f8, their upcoming developer conference. Their story has been corrected. As Facebook has said previously, they are moving from “Become a Fan” to “Like” to make the language on the site more consistent but they have no announcements or changes planned to their ad offering or ad policies.

Also, according to the updated FT.com story, the “Like” button will not only supplant “Become a Fan” but also appear in a role similar to Facebook’s “Share” button, which often is seen on publisher sites in a fashion comparable to buttons for Twitter and Digg. Publishers will be able to embed the “Like” button, letting a viewer distribute their content to his or her Facebook friends via the news feed.

Whether or not “Share” is completely going away in favor of “Like” – as is the case with “Become a Fan” – remains unclear. Facebook declined to comment on the issue today when contacted.

However, whatever confusion existed before about whether Facebook was going to replace “Become a Fan” with either “Like” or “I Like” button copy has been cleared up as the social site’s PR team has reacted to the FT.com article.

A spokesperson for the social site wrote in an e-mail today: “…the only thing changing is nomenclature of ‘Becoming a Fan’ to “Like”. (not ‘I like’).”

Currently, the “like” button is confined to Facebook users approving other people’s posted statuses.

You can follow Christopher Heine on Twitter at @ChrisClickZ.

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