Zuckerberg's Mea Culpa, Not Enough


Update: Frankly, I am myself getting sick and tired of repeating myself about the all-important “information transmission from partner sites” aspect of Beacon. That question remains unanswered in Zuckerberg’s blog post, which upon second read is rather scant on actual privacy information. Here is what he writes:

If you select that you don’t want to share some Beacon actions or if you turn off Beacon, then Facebook won’t store those actions even when partners send them to Facebook.”

So essentially he’s saying the information transmitted won’t be stored but will perhaps be interpreted. Will this happen in real time? If that is the case, then the advertising “optimization” that results from “transmissions” is going to continue. Right!

If they were making massive changes, one would have seen options like “Don’t allow any web sites to send stories to Facebook” or “Don’t track my actions outside of Facebook” in this image below.


I think Facebook needs to clarify this point further, because currently, despite this mea culpa, I don’t think it’s easy to trust Facebook to do the right thing with the information they continue to collect. You can also share your thoughts on our Facebook Question of the Day Application. (Original post below the fold.)

Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg, after taking it on the chin for nearly two weeks, is apologizing about the company’s Beacon advertising platform fiasco. In his blog post, in which he explains his side of the story and rationalizes his reasoning, there is one paragraph which says it all:

We’ve made a lot of mistakes building this feature, but we’ve made even more with how we’ve handled them. We simply did a bad job with this release, and I apologize for it. While I am disappointed with our mistakes, we appreciate all the feedback we have received from our users.

He goes onto say that while he thought Beacon was a great idea, the company might have gone overboard.

The problem with our initial approach of making it an opt-out system instead of opt-in was that if someone forgot to decline to share something, Beacon still went ahead and shared it with their friends.

No shit! I think they tried to push the limits, and got some push back, and that’s that. Regardless, had people not contacted them, as Zuckerberg puts it, they would have gotten away with it.

Instead of acting quickly, we took too long to decide on the right solution. I’m not proud of the way we’ve handled this situation and I know we can do better.

I think this is a good move by Zuckerberg and I hope his team learns from it. This is the second time they have tried to test the limits of their community and gotten some flack for it. It would be better if they asked — they are a social community — and being social means listening and talking with each other first, not after the fact.

Our entire coverage of the Beacon Gate


Mark A.D.


The unaired dark side of Facebook, or should I call it “Disgracebook” because of the extremely poor disgraceful way Facebook treats its members. The reason I say the unaired dark side of Facebook is I have yet to see anything announced on the prime time major news outlets about the disgraceful practices Facebook uses on its members. The Internet is bursting at its seems with unhappy disabled Facebook members who have posted thousands of complaints everywhere it is possible to post complaints about Facebooks complete lack of customer service and mean spirited disregard for concerns, questions and feedback from members and former members.
If anyone thinks Facebook is “listening” to its members or advertisers or anyone wanting to communicate with them, they simply DO NOT know what they are talking about! Facebook ruthlessly, rigorously, relentlessly, and remorselessly walks all over its members with hob nailed boot polices of culling members from membership for unspecified unknown reasons and then accuses the permanently disabled unacceptable members as “possibly” being guilty of spamming or “possibly” being guilty of harassing other members because of asking too many members to be friends at an unspecified rate. Facebook goes on to permanently disable unacceptable members accounts that have too many friends, belongs to too many groups, pokes too many unknown times, sends too many email messages and on and on and on. The founder of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, says that Facebook members seem to take a “personal ownership” of their Facebook accounts. Well, golly gee Mark, Facebook is supposedly a SOCIAL Internet program that people join to meet and make new friends. Making new friends, at least to me, is personal and publishing real photographs and genuine personal information on Facebook seems personal to me. Maybe you should say in your rules and regulations that Facebook wants members to be real and genuine but do not join Facebook for personal reasons and do not expect to be treated in a true genuine caring manner because Facebook does not care in the least about what you think or how you feel. When Facebook says you are guilty of breaking polices you will be treated with complete lack of respect in an impersonal sterile manner and declared unacceptable and permanently banned from Facebook without recourse.

On Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook Fan Page Mark states “I’m trying to make the world a more open place by helping people connect and share.” I am glad Mark says he is “trying etc.” because, in my opinion, he certainly has NOT accomplished his mission. Facebook is one of the most closed undemocratic uncaring unsocial business operations since the formation of the Gestapo. Facebook operates carte blanche without regard of a due process of rights for members Facebook deems unacceptable to be a member of its supposed Internet social network service and therefore, disables their account without warning. Facebook justifies its policy and actions under the euphemism of “protecting members” from “repeated actions that COULD BE CONSTRUED as spam,” and from anything Facebook makes up to be a threat to its security. Although Facebook publishes what it SAYS are its rules and regulations, Facebooks security is a computer program of unpublished nonspecific rules and regulations that are enforced by an automated, autocratic, uncaring broadly defined bureaucratic computer program that members violate without knowing it and then booted out of Facebook. If this is not Gestapo like policy, I guess I do not know what it is because it certainly is un-American to say the least!

Furthermore, in my opinion, Facebook is NOT a Internet “social network service.” When joining Facebook you are, in reality, joining an Internet money making “computer advertising program” that is set up to look like a Internet “social network service” for the public. In essence, the Internet “social network service” is a screen or cover for a “computerized advertising” empire designed with one thing in mind, the bottom line profits for Facebook investors. I am all for investors making a profit and if the investors will wake up they can increase their profits by paying attention to the consumer members of Facebook. As it stands now, the consumer is NOT king on Facebook. Facebook can at any time without having to explain its decision declare any member persona non grata. Is it any wonder Facebook members are treated with total disregard for being feeling thinking real people? I have yet to know of a computer program that is able to feel and or to reason. When placing a phone call to Facebook you are treated rudely and crassly informed to use their computerized automated services, which do not reply when used or quickly transferred to an automated answering service to which there is no reply.

Why a business would choose to advertise on “Disgracebook” is beyond my ability to understand sound business practices? I know that I will not purchase any goods or services advertised on “Disgracebook” and I urge anyone mauled by “Disgracebooks” insensitivity to boycott anything advertised by this disgraceful, despicable, sorry company!

If “Disgracebook” is treating its foreign members as poorly as it treats its domestic members “Disgracebook” is not only giving itself a black eye it is giving the United States of America a black eye. Is there anyone out there who cares enough and can communicate with Facebook to help Facebook become a user friendly Internet social network service it claims to be?

I strongly urge anyone interested to please research what I am informing you of because I assure you the situation I have explained is the truth and nothing but the truth so help me God. Until the media and or business community and elected officials takes notice of and makes public “Disgracebooks” dark side inhuman treatment of people Mark Zuckerberg and his staff and money making computer program will continue to execute its falsely accused unacceptable members and fill up trenches behind “Disgracebooks” California headquarters with their discarded accounts.

David Evans

Maybe I’m seeing the glass 1 percent full but Facebook has performed a great service by raising the consciousness over what’s happening with privacy on the Internet. All this free content that we’re used to is being supported by advertising. But one of the prices we’re all paying is giving the ad engines lots of data about ourselves. That’s fine so long as we’re aware of it and can decide whether this is a good deal or a devil’s bargain. Lots of members of the Facebook community decided it was the latter. Of course if too many do then Zuckerberg’s going to have to figure out a better way to make money off of the fabulous community he’s built up.


In Europe, the privacy directive that made the Passenger Name Record transmissions so difficult when the US decided to tighten up border security may actually allow the European Union to bring legal charges against the Beacon platform. Europeans have a far different concept of privacy rights than Americans. It will be interesting to see how the EU reacts to the (illegal) violation of the privacy of European citizens online.

Chris Spinchange

Om, it’s refreshing to see you post this! As some other’s point out, many (even otherwise reputable) tech blogs, are heralding this half-measure as a fix and applauding Zuckerberg for “stepping up” Thank you for pointing out that this actually just obfuscates the real privacy issues which have not at all been addressed.

After all, just because you can block the display of something (in this case beacon data) doesn’t mean it stopped being transmitted. On top of that, it’s very hard to “trust” that nothing is being done with the data, when they’ve already lied about getting it in the first place!


I think people in general underestimate the data leakage which occurs in normal web use already. Just on top of my head, lets see what Google (really doesn’t matter) can find out about me. I don not have a Google account, email or what not, I also clean out all cookies on browser close.
Anyway, I use Google maps to find directions to unknown addresses in the area, just to find out how long it will take to get there. If I use my home address repeatedly as a starting point for directions.
A simple correlation with the origin of my ip address will show that this is most likely my home address.
Looking up who lives there they know who I am.
They know the avg. income of my neighbor hood.
They can find my mortgage rate and which car I drive and how old it is.
And …..

Just by using my home address as a starting point for directions.
Well come to the world of data mining.

Mark Mayhew

I used to be a big fan of Facebook’s, I’m not so sure, anymore. Last week FB deleted my account (that I had had over 1 year and had approx. 200 friends), with no warning/explanation.
During email contacts with 4 FB “Customer Support” Reps over the week, I found FB to be arrogant, and, ironically being as FB is a communications company, very difficult/nearly impossible to communicate.

Finally, FB sent me a curt “your account has been restored, sorry for any inconvience” form email. they gave no explanation at all.
I’m glad to be on FB, but will I ever trust ’em again? That’s hard to say.

Rajesh Duggal

Facebook’s goal, like all other corps, is to maximize profits and longevity for it’s owners. So they are pushing the boundary of what they can get away with to increase viral growth of their platform. It’s the correct thing to do for them, and their owners. Hopefully they did an assessment of the ROI and decided that the benefits of viral growth from beacon in spite of the backlash would be worth it.

It’s just like Microsoft and open source OS’s.

A small number of people will complain a lot and move over to linux, opensolaris, etc. 95% will shrug and stick with the dominant player.

Microsoft should continue to push the limits to maximize profits for it’s owners as it’s obligated too. Government needs to step in to place the hard limits, and to adjust the ROI equation with penalties and credits for a corp’s behaviour.


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