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Print 34 comment(s) - last by LogicallyGeniu.. on Dec 9 at 8:46 AM

Facebook shows that they (sometimes) know when to say sorry

The fallout of Facebook's Beacon adware campaign has left a troubling haze around the typically exciting social networking company.  Social networking has always had its critics, but Facebook is used to wild success and is a traditional analyst favorite.  Its status as a hot item was solidified when it received a significant recent investment and commitment from Microsoft.

Facebook rolled out the Beacon adware program which monitors users' shopping activities on advertising partners, early this month.  Criticism mounted swiftly as the software not only tracked users activities when logged out of Facebook, but also posted obnoxiously intrusive advertisements about what they had purchased in user's public news feeds.  These feeds would be displayed on user's friends pages.

Facebook finally agreed to make changes about its implementation of the adware, but refused to fully back down from it.  Facebook changed the feed connection so that users feed will only publicly announce purchase if users give it permission to.  Facebook still is supportive of the system, because it promises big money for the company, which can start to use it to sell targeted ads, a higher priced commodity than standard ads.

Now to top off the minor changes, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is hoping a personal apology will help to soothe users hurt feelings.  Mr. Zuckerberg said in his Facebook blog, "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."

He reiterated that users can now disable the announcements of their purchases.  However, he did indicate that Facebook will continue to track users' off site shopping activity, though it promises to do so discretely and securely.

Facebook made just over $150 million USD last year in advertising, but is hoping to draw around $200 million USD in only a few short months by selling higher-priced targeted advertisements.  With this kind of financial incentive it is understandable why Facebook is loathe to entirely do away with the system, even if it comes at a bit of an expense to user privacy.

One of the most vocal critics of Facebook's user monitoring and privacy violations, Moveon.org, seemed happy with Facebook's response and Mr. Zuckerberg's commentary.  Spokesman Adam Green said, "Facebook's policy change is a big step in the right direction, and we hope it begins an industry-wide trend that puts the basic rights of Internet users ahead of the wish lists of corporate advertisers."

How exactly Facebook's struggles in pushing the adware on its users effect its bottom line are yet to be seen, but one of its advertising partners, Overstock.com, has already ditched the service.  Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg hopes his apology can help prevent more advertisers from jumping ship.



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Who thought this was a good idea?
By 306maxi on 12/6/2007 9:35:48 AM , Rating: 3
I bet the person who thought it was a good idea to do this without letting people opt in got his/her butt fired pretty quickly!




RE: Who thought this was a good idea?
By therealnickdanger on 12/6/2007 9:37:34 AM , Rating: 2
Isn't it incredible what people expect to get for free nowadays?


RE: Who thought this was a good idea?
By 306maxi on 12/6/2007 11:38:21 AM , Rating: 2
It's not about free. It's about being transparent!


RE: Who thought this was a good idea?
By therealnickdanger on 12/6/2007 11:41:30 AM , Rating: 2
They are transparent, unless you don't read the signup agreement.


RE: Who thought this was a good idea?
By logaldinho on 12/6/2007 12:27:44 PM , Rating: 2
did the signup agreement when facebook was still privatized, or even 2+ years ago have any mention of the beacon/similiar software or ad sales?


RE: Who thought this was a good idea?
By creathir on 12/6/2007 12:57:39 PM , Rating: 5
It does not matter. It states they have the right to modify the terms when they decide to, and your continued use of the service is your acceptance of the terms. Standard legalese for websites these days.

If you are unhappy about the privacy issues you see, then just stop using the service. They do not have an obligation to provide you with the service how you want it, not unless you had something that said so.

- Creathir


RE: Who thought this was a good idea?
By erikejw on 12/7/2007 4:22:18 AM , Rating: 2
Apologize all you want but noone will beleive it is sincere since you won't remove the snooping system completely.


By LogicallyGenius on 12/9/2007 8:46:27 AM , Rating: 2
Whats the next best thing to FACEBOOK ?


ohh no, its ok
By Drexial on 12/6/2007 9:50:24 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
However, he did indicate that Facebook will continue to track users' off site shopping activity, though it promises to do so discretely and securely.


they will only spy on us with out us knowing, nothing wrong with that.< /sarcasm>

i wonder if spybot/adaware pick up on the crap that face book drops off. this is an absolutely ridiculous ad policy. didn't use face book much before, wont be using it anymore.




RE: ohh no, its ok
By m0mentary on 12/6/2007 10:11:56 AM , Rating: 2
Can someone explain exactly how they are tracking user activity?


RE: ohh no, its ok
By Rotkiv on 12/6/2007 10:47:59 AM , Rating: 3
The adware is not stored on the users computer. Facebook partners with online stores to get your shopping habits. There is not much we can do to stop them from watching us on the internet.


RE: ohh no, its ok
By m0mentary on 12/6/2007 11:07:58 AM , Rating: 2
Correct me if Im wrong (because I am a little confused) but I though I read somewhere that they were able to track your shopping habits even when you weren't logged into facebook. How would they be able to do that, and how would they know you have a facebook account if you weren't logged in?


RE: ohh no, its ok
By Chris Peredun on 12/6/2007 11:48:17 AM , Rating: 3
I believe they're using cookie sharing as one method. If www.ApprovedSite.com decides to ask for the Facebook.com cookie, it will be provided, and they'll see that the Facebook account "John Doe" bought there.

Hopefully they keep www.ShadySiteThatLooksLegitEnoughToFoolFacebookAndT henStealYourLoginCredentials.net out of that whitelist.


RE: ohh no, its ok
By jtesoro on 12/7/2007 12:06:41 AM , Rating: 2
Aren't partner sites just as deserving of ire as Facebook? Let's say amazon.com got into this Facebook agreement. I don't think it's right that they allow your purchases to be blasted to other Facebook users. Even allowing Facebook to "discreetly and securely" track your amazon purchases for targeted advertising sounds wrong to me too.

Of course, as mentioned by someone else, web sites can pretty much modify privacy terms and conditions any way they want so users are pretty much screwed. But if you want to stop using Facebook in order to punish them, you should stop using their partner sites as well.


You only say sorry...
By daftrok on 12/6/2007 9:15:02 AM , Rating: 4
When you are caught. Bravo, Facebook. Instead of just denying responsibility, you take the plunge and apologize. Now here's your slap on the wrist. Be a good boy now!




RE: You only say sorry...
By NickWV on 12/6/2007 10:37:43 AM , Rating: 2
don't see how you could deny responsibility from that, the writing was pretty much on the wall. If they continued to leave it online and not let users disable it, they could expect a number of lawsuits.

that apology was a "I'm sorry, don't sue" apology.


RE: You only say sorry...
By Proteusza on 12/6/2007 11:08:01 AM , Rating: 3
I think the fact that he apologized means he carefully reviewed the legality of his actions and decided that this wouldnt constitute an admission of guilt.


The death knell.
By wallijonn on 12/6/2007 10:37:00 AM , Rating: 3
quote:
Facebook will continue to track users' off site shopping activity


R.I.P.




RE: The death knell.
By VooDooAddict on 12/6/2007 4:28:42 PM , Rating: 2
Agreed.

I've never setup a facebook ... and this will certainly keep me from doing it.


RE: The death knell.
By GeorgeOrwell on 12/7/2007 4:07:56 AM , Rating: 3
And do you also pledge to stop using Google? What Facebook did/does to spy on people is nothing -- and I do mean nothing -- compared to Big Brother Google.

I still find it amazing that people will sell their data, habits, and personal information for free email and a few crappy Javascript apps.


Turn about: Fair play?
By kileil on 12/6/2007 10:52:48 AM , Rating: 3
So if any of you DailyTech'ers live near Mark Zuckerberg, I kindly invite you to inconspicuously follow him around in his daily ventures, occasionally shouting his purchases from the nearby shrubbery.

"MARK BOUGHT A FISH SANDWICH AND COLA!!"




RE: Turn about: Fair play?
By ebakke on 12/6/2007 11:28:57 AM , Rating: 2
Hilarious.


Is it legal?
By tmouse on 12/6/2007 2:01:14 PM , Rating: 2
I'm not sure but doesn’t the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA)prohibit this type of activity for children under 13? How are they insuring they are not violating this?




RE: Is it legal?
By tmouse on 12/6/2007 2:04:15 PM , Rating: 2
Actually this may not apply since the law appears to be directed at sites specifically targeting children still....


Apology?
By razor2025 on 12/7/2007 2:01:48 AM , Rating: 2
Mark Zuckerberg made off with HUNDREDS of MILLIONS for selling Facebook out. Honestly, nothing out of his mouth will mean crap to me. This should teach people that nothing is free and watch what you signed up for. I haven't logged into Facebook for almost entire semester now, and I'm seriously considering killing off my profile (though I'm sure they'll retain the data).




RE: Apology?
By Chris Peredun on 12/7/2007 9:29:10 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
I'm seriously considering killing off my profile (though I'm sure they'll retain the data).


In order to remove yourself completely, you'll need to manually delete every comment, wall post, application, (etc) that you've made.

Then log out, and send an email to privacy (at) facebook.com from the account's email address requesting that it be closed.

Request confirmation of its deletion and check back periodically.


By Polynikes on 12/6/2007 12:36:32 PM , Rating: 3
So let's force everyone to blab to their friends what they're buying them!




Two to Tango
By clovell on 12/6/2007 5:29:38 PM , Rating: 3
Has any stopped long enough to be pissed at the 'advertising partners' Facebook has contracted to turn over your shopping information? Just saying - Facebook is free, but I expect more from a company I do business with.




I am sorry
By Screwballl on 12/6/2007 10:53:29 AM , Rating: 2
Sorry for spying on you, we will continue spying on you but only discreetly and with your best interests in mind.
/end truthful sarcasm/

No thanks, this is why we have spyware scanning programs, to get rid of this crap. for those that use it, time to embargo facebook until they change their practice and find another method of advertising that doesn't constitute spying and malware.




one thing I've learned
By Zensen on 12/6/2007 11:05:00 AM , Rating: 2
people are far more willing to be open on these social networking sites, no wonder its an potential gold mine for advertisers.

I don't like the way facebook is heading with this and I can see how this can be a put off for some people and leave a bit of a tarnish on the facebook operations. I don't mind the concept and its availability to everyone but its got to the point where I personally find the poking, the insane amount of stupid applications to be downright intrusive and only recently you had them tracking your every movements with the now defunct? beacon. sorta like a mobile phone but not a necessity and without the advertising.

At least with both I can turn them off... thankfully!




Problem Solved
By Bioniccrackmonk on 12/6/2007 12:42:48 PM , Rating: 2
Sign in, check your messages, post a couple replies, sign out and then run ccleaner. Tada, no more cookies to track your shopping.




By PitViper007 on 12/6/2007 2:21:12 PM , Rating: 2
When I would agree with MoveOn.org on something, even partially...

quote:
One of the most vocal critics of Facebook's user monitoring and privacy violations, Moveon.org, seemed happy with Facebook's response and Mr. Zuckerberg's commentary. Spokesman Adam Green said, "Facebook's policy change is a big step in the right direction, and we hope it begins an industry-wide trend that puts the basic rights of Internet users ahead of the wish lists of corporate advertisers."


While I agree that Facebook is moving in the right direction here, it DEFINITELY isn't far or fast enough. It is unconscionable that they are tracking users movements when they aren't even on the Facebook site. On their site, fine. But they certainly aren't going to track what I buy elsewhere, and they DEFINITELY aren't going to advertise it to the whole world.




They'll still track you though....
By jon1003 on 12/6/2007 2:23:30 PM , Rating: 2
"Facebook will continue to track users' off site shopping activity, though it promises to do so discretely and securely."

WTF? No thanks. Facebook has no right to this information from me.




TOM!!!!!
By Vanilla Thunder on 12/6/2007 12:48:00 PM , Rating: 1
MySpace, FTW!!!!

lmao.

V.




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