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Summary:

Facebook may announce alterations to the Beacon social advertising system as early as today, according to BusinessWeek. Perhaps Facebook will now allow global opt-out of publishing third-party activities on the Facebook site — and this would appease many who have complained. But that may not go […]

Facebook may announce alterations to the Beacon social advertising system as early as today, according to BusinessWeek. Perhaps Facebook will now allow global opt-out of publishing third-party activities on the Facebook site — and this would appease many who have complained.

But that may not go far enough in protecting users’ privacy. Some people may also want the ability to stop Facebook not just from publishing information from third-party sites, but also from gathering that information at all.

Many Facebook users have complained that they shouldn’t have to opt out every time Facebook wants to publish transaction information from third-party sites. Besides, some critics say, the opt-out notices are so subtle that many people don’t even notice them.

Blogger and Wiley marketing director, Ellen Gerstein, discovered how subtle those notices were when she congratulated her babysitter on buying a purple ski jacket. Her babysitter had no idea that her Overstock.com purchases were shared on Facebook. Ellen said, “I cannot imagine I would want anyone on Facebook to know what I am purchasing.”

When Facebook announced Beacon, Om called it a potential privacy hairball, noting that even if you opt out of the information publishing, Facebook still knows what you’re doing.

Bokardo blogger Joshua Porter highlights this same problem:

Most people are worried about what happens when the shared information gets back to Facebook, and their Facebook friends see their outside activity….

My main concern was that Facebook and Blockbuster were talking at all.

So when the Facebook announcement comes out, we should be looking not only for the ability to opt out of publishing transaction information to Facebook, but the ability to opt out of sharing any information outside of Facebook as well.

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  1. Vero Pepperrell Thursday, November 29, 2007

    Facebook Beacon was a huge mistake, IMHO, and I find it shocking that anyone thought they were doing users a service by opting us all in by default.

    Coming from an email marketing background, I appreciate how difficult it is to convince users to opt-in of their own accord, but sharing this much information without our explicit permission is downright disgusting.

    As one of the articles on this topic said, what if I was buying a book called “Coping with AIDS”? It’s not all about purple scarves and ruined Christmas surprises, it’s personal lives that could be ruined by it.

  2. Facebook made the same communication problem with the NewsFeed, but here’s the difference; all the data aggregated in the original NewsFeed was already happening inside the walls of Facebook, everything pulled from Beacon exists outside the walls of Facebook. If users want to share their purchases, they’ll already be doing so through wallposts, and favourite movie/book apps etc. Opt-out is not cool.

    Facebook has been around long enough for the users’ preferred level of data to hit a happy medium. People already share everything they want to share – everything pulled-in above and beyond this (via technological innovations) is probably there to justify the hefty valuations.

  3. Anne,
    Facebook will make changes as they move forward for sure. A constant state of change is the only constant for facebook. Beacon will most likely be tweaked rather than a major overhaul. There technical challenges to implement any changes they might do if the changes reside outside of facebook at participating sites.

    You can read my more detailed thoughts on this whole Facebook Beacon issue here: http://facereviews.com/2007/11/29/facebook-beacon-aftershocks-causing-groundshift

    Cheers!

    Rodney Rumford
    Publisher: FaceReviews.com

  4. To Save Its Bacon, Facebook’s Weakens Beacon – GigaOM Thursday, November 29, 2007

    [...] Written by Om Malik Thursday, November 29, 2007 at 11:01 PM PT Comments (0) Three weeks is a long time on the Internet. It was on November 6, I raised the question: Is Facebook Beacon a privacy nightmare? Three days later, my next post, Facebook’s Cruel Intentions elicited some response from the Palo Alto, CA-based company, which responded and clarified company’s position. But soon after the situation got a bit out of control. MoveOn.org got involved making it a PR disaster. [...]

  5. Online Advertising: l\’avvento dei Fan-Sumers? (Parte 3) | Stalkk.ed Friday, November 30, 2007

    [...] “Some people may also want the ability to stop Facebook not just from publishing information from third-party sites, but also from gathering that information at all. Many Facebook users have complained that they shouldn’t have to opt out every time Facebook wants to publish transaction information from third-party sites. Besides, some critics say, the opt-out notices are so subtle that many people don’t even notice them” aggiunge anche Anne Zelenka su GigaOM. [...]

  6. Is it that Facebook will modify, not spike Beacon ads??? Confusing though…Well its looking like Facebook is up for making some serious changes..Finally, if users fail to approve or decline the Facebook alert on the partner site, Facebook will no longer assume the user is agreeing by omission. Instead, they will offer another, more visible opportunity to opt-out to users on Facebook itself. If no action is taken within two days, Facebook will assume the user complies and will publish the action in the news feed.

    Are they trying to catch users off guard??? Or they jst trying an explicit way to know what has happened and for them to publish.

    Parul
    http://www.bhopu.com

  7. the capacity : The Next Social Network: WordPress – GigaOM Thursday, December 13, 2007

    [...] given Facebook’s alarming disregard for our privacy most notability with their Beacon project, and their growing commercializatio, I would feel more comfortable if I could manage my own social [...]

  8. that canadian girl » Blog Archive » 2007’s dumbest moments in business according to Fortune (and me) Saturday, December 29, 2007

    [...] was a fundamentally stupid mistake. There’s a fine line between giving users useful services and features, and being [...]

  9. Yahoo unveiled a new homepage for the iPhone’s Safari browser and invites you to sync the modules (”My Favorites”) between the PC and your iPhone. Source http://techwoo.com/yahoo-revamps-its-iphone-homepage-adds-sync/

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