How Facebook secretly made me a Hanes brand advocate

Got a phone call from a friend not too long ago. We’ll call him Jon. Or Robert…No Timmy. Screw it – we’ll call him JRT to keep things simple.

Actually, doesn’t matter one way or another. What’s important here is you realize JRT and I are friends on Facebook – it’s been official for years. It’s also worth noting that we still talk outside Facebook city limits – at least occasionally.


My good friend JRT

JRT’s reason for calling that day not too long ago was to discuss my offensive presence on his F-Book wall. He wasn’t very happy about what had been going on recently. And I felt bad for crossing him, even though I had no idea what he was talking about.

Had I left an insulting message or posted an offensive video of some sort on his wall? Had I tagged him chugging a boot of beer when I knew very well he’d been searching for work recently? Was he even searching for work?

No, he explained, the inexcusable offense was one I hadn’t even deliberately orchestrated myself. A saucy conundrum indeed.

The grievance JRT registered was this, “How come every time I go to my wall, it says ‘Joe Winn likes Hanes underwear’ and tells me I should like Hanes underwear, too?”

This introduced many pressing questions of ethics, morality and perhaps religion. Ok, we’ll keep religion out of this – for now anyway.

To be sure, should one like Hanes underwear simply because his friend likes Hanes underwear? Can friendships endure if one friend prefers Fruit of the Loom to Hanes? And what can be said of Under Armour in this discussion?

But, more importantly, why was Facebook publicizing Joe Winn likes Hanes underwear without my consent?

“But I don’t even wear Hanes!” I pleaded to my dear friend.


Walter helps me collect evidence

Our telephone conversation (there’s an old phrase!) ended with me assuring JRT that I’d get to the bottom of this most important issue of undies…or “the whites” as Walter Sobchak would say.

But where to start

But where to start! Indeed, I first visited the library, where I pored over old books on libel and character defamation…Nothing on the topic of Facebook was found.

So next I visited a Catholic Church and erroneously called the priest a reverend, which naturally sparked a lengthy conversation on the difference between priests and reverends, and how ministers are always under-appreciated and pastors misunderstood. We later parted on amicable terms – we became Facebook friends even! – though nothing concerning the whites was learned.

It was then I visited a watering hole located directly across the street from the church. It’s my understanding they have a wonderful Sunday brunch, though this was a Tuesday evening so I have no personal opinions on the matter.

“Ready for scotch number five?” The bartender asked.

Fortunately, this wasn’t directed at me, but the inebriated vagabond sitting at the elbow of the bar.

“Dead broke,” the vagabond replied in defeat.

“No worries,” the bartender said, pouring him another thumb. “This one’s from charity.”

CHARITY! That’s it!

From charity to disparity

It had been for charity! That’s why I had liked the Hanes underwear page several months before – because for every person who liked its page, Hanes would donate one pair of socks to the homeless. What a noble cause!

Wanting to give back, with it being the holiday season and all, I willingly and enthusiastically added my name to the long list of people exchanging a click for a pair of socks. It felt great.

But that’s it.

The relationship was to end there. That I wanted someone to enjoy the benefits of new socks – benefits I take for granted all too often – did not mean I wished to be enlisted as a brand advocate for a brand whose products I don’t even use. Facebook assumed otherwise.

Joe Winn likes Hanes underwear no more


The whites

But no more. No, my “like” has gone away.

It pleases me that someone, somewhere is rocking a new pair of Hanes socks, but the lies and deception cannot go on. It’s not Hanes that I blame, but the Book itself.

All I wanted was for someone to receive a pair of socks. It was not my wish to be used in a clandestine ploy to build the Hanes brand on a social platform, which no doubt benefits Facebook’s profit margin greatly, though not mine in the least.

So goodbye to likes. I am unliking what I once liked and never liking again. If this is how Facebook is going to use my information, to say nothing of the annoying targeted ads, then I’m done with it. Ok, I will continue to like this and this, but no more.

Even so, I’m sure they’ll still find a way to punish me. Won’t be long ‘til someone – perhaps the good priest – reaches me by phone again.

“I really gotta ask you, Joe,” the good priest will say. “How come every time I go to my Facebook page, it says ‘Joe Winn likes nihilism’ and suggests that I should, too?”