Updated: Facebook's Cruel Intentions, Facebook Responds

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Updated: Facebook Responds, and explains.

It has been 48 hours since I asked Facebook to clarify the point about whether a user’s data is still being passed to them from their web partners even after the user chooses to opt out of Beacon.

I’ve since given it a lot of thought and decided that I was not being judgmental in my previous post. Here, after all, is what Mark Zuckerberg told Portfolio.

* “The ads are going to feel like content to a lot of people.”
* “There is no opting out of advertising.”

Scary, isn’t it? Anyway, Nate Weiner, writing on Idea Shower, is also worried about Beacon — and he’s come to a similar conclusion: Any opt out is that of perception and publishing. (He came to this conclusion while playing games over on Kongregate.)

The problem however is, that even though you can choose whether or not it is made public that you visited these sites, Facebook still has the data regardless of your privacy settings. Now I don’t mean to sound like I’m tin-foil-hat-wearing paranoid, but that does seem to encroach a little past what Facebook’s role in my life should be.

Weiner (via Deep Jive Interests) has suggestions on how to avoid the whole Beacon thing — you need to use this Firefox plugin. My view is this: Let’s not use the 44 sites that have partnered with Facebook till each one puts a public disclosure on their site saying that no data is being passed to it.

It is going to be hard living without some of these big giants, but in most cases there are options. For instance, Fandango, which is owned by Comcast (CMCSA), is not going to get any business from me — 777 Film is a good alternative. Blockbuster (BBI) gets the boot, and eBay (EBAY)? Okay maybe I am being a little paranoid!

And as far as Facebook is concerned, I am still waiting for their clarifications.

Updated: Here is what Facebook says. I am also speaking with one of their senior executives on Monday, so if you have any questions or concerns, please let me know.

Facebook designed Beacon so Facebook users could choose to share information about interesting actions they are taking on other websites with their friends on Facebook. As part of Beacon, Facebook built several ways that users can choose to not share any information. Each time an action can be shared, users receive a prompt on a Beacon-participating site where users can choose “No, thanks.”

If they choose not to share a specific action, Facebook immediately deletes and does not store any data that was used to generate the Beacon. In all cases, Facebook does not share any personally identifiable information with participating sites.

Along with the choices a user has on a Beacon site, users also have the ability to change their settings on Facebook. A user can select to remove any participating Beacon site from ever sending any information to Facebook to share with their friends.

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