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December 1 2007

What Was Facebook Thinking?

Facebook LogoI’ve been doing  a lot of coverage lately of this whole Facebook Beacon debacle.  I honestly can’t fathom what they were thinking when they came up with this whole thing.

For those not up to speed, back on November 6th, Facebook announced the launch of “Beacon”, a social advertising initiative that partnered with large websites like Fandango.com and Epicurious.com.  The idea is that as you interact with these other sites, the information shows up in your News Feed on Facebook, showing your friends the sites you interact with, and acting as a form of endorsement, or advertisement.

Well, the laundry list of issues this has raised is amazing.  (pardon me while I link to some of the stories I’ve written about it)

New York state is looking in to the legalities of the system – It seems that under New York state law, you can not include someone in an advertisement without their express permission.  This also applies to the new “Fan Of” feature for Facebook Pages.  If you become a “fan” of a business profile on Facebook, it shows up in your News Feed.

MoveOn.org has privacy concerns – People are complaining about the information shared with their friends, and MoveOn took up the banner to raise the concerns also.  I’m sorry, but no one needs to know what I’m spending my money on.  Not my friends, and certainly not Facebook.

Some concessions on opting-out… but not really –  On Thursday of this week, Facebook said they would make some concessions to the system, but when you read the finer details… not really.  The system now asks “Do you want to share this?” (which it always did)  Under the old system, if you did nothing, it took that as a “yes”.  Now the system will ask you again on Facebook if you want to share it, but if you take no action within two days, it still counts as a “yes”.

And now… the advertisers are saying Facebook lied to them – Now it has come out that the companies that partnered up with Facebook in this plan were told that it would be an “opt-in” system, or at least had it implied to them.  Coca-Cola, which was to be one of the key companies involved, has held off it’s support until they see how it shakes out, and they are one of the ones saying they were misled by Facebook.

So, in short, what are they doing?  Are they just so full of themselves and their rapid success that they feel they can do just about anything they want?  Facebook is playing in the big leagues now, it’s time they acted like it.  And I’m sorry, but anything that collects my personal information should be an opt-in system, NOT an opt-out one.  This is my personal information, I should not have to exert any effort to withhold sharing it.

What’s everyone else think?  Have they gone too far?



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