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06 December, 2007

Facebook: When greed happens

Anyone read the news this morning about Facebook? Not being a "Facebooker" I allowed myself a little smile. It seems that there new advertising venture "beacon" has failed horribly. I wonder how they did not see it coming? Here is a little summary of how it worked:

"As originally conceived, Beacon was a particularly egregious scheme for invading your privacy. Dozens of sites had contracted with Facebook to send people's surfing data to the social network; your profile would send out little messages to your friends about what you were doing on those sites -- telling them that you were shopping on Overstock.com, say, or were cooking certain recipes at Epicurious -- as a kind of ad for those sites.
Not only did Facebook not allow people to turn off the system, it also assumed that if you did not explicitly prohibit it from sending messages out from each site in its ad network, you were granting permission. In other words, Beacon was devised as an opt-out plan -- or, more precisely, it was plead-out, because getting the system to stop sending messages on your behalf involved a torturous number of steps. " (from http://machinist.salon.com/blog/2007/12/06/facebook_beacon/index.html)

Although Facebook have now made this an opt-in feature I can't help but think other websites will begin following suit. Soon just opening up an Internet browser will be tracked, monitored and you will be emailed "relevant" adverts for "your convenience" and then promptly taken to each of those sites until you forget why you logged on in the first place.

1 comment:

Rebecca Burch said...

I find this to be really creepy!