Print 39 comment(s) - last by wallijonn.. on Dec 4 at 10:34 AM

Social networking giant Facebook deals with frustrated users who feel it violated their privacy

Many of Facebook's traditionally carefree users are not so happy these days.  The reason for much of their anger was due to Facebook's launch of new tracking software early last month, which loaded users up with an adware platform dubbed Beacon. 

The program tracked information on customer purchases outside of the site and at participating online retailers -- even if the user was logged off of his or her Facebook account.  The software was used to direct ads to the user when he or she was logged into Facebook, which while a bit invasive for some people's taste, seemed innocuous enough. 

Then came the reports that the Beacon platform was doing a bit more than it should have.  The software would post stories about user purchases in the users' news feeds.  Hopefully those CDs and movies you bought weren't a birthday gift (or hopefully your friend doesn't use Facebook) as it might have just been posted for all to see!  This was a typical sort of frustration that faced users, who felt betrayed by Facebook that the company was exposing their private information and purchase in an intrusive manner.

The move even began to generate political pressure, as many people wrote to their political leaders that Facebook was violating their consumer rights.

Facing mounting pressure, Facebook has now backed down halfway.  Now it is changing the service so that news feed still appear, but require a user to click "OK" before they will be posted to feed that the public can see.

Facebook reaffirmed its support of the Beacon platform as a whole, though, saying it felt that the software was respectful of user privacy.

Facebook is developing a bit of a big brother image with moves like this and a major recent investment from Microsoft.  Whether this effects its wild growth has yet to be seen.  Facebook also has faced negative press lately when it was subpoenaed by the New York state Attorney General over solicitation of minors on the site.

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You can't have your cake and eat it....
By kilkennycat on 12/3/2007 11:00:31 AM , Rating: 5
Want to social-network and still enjoy privacy?. Then don't expose any personal information on social-networking sites. Especially any owned by Big Business. Get with your (real-life) friends and enjoy yourselves... just like you used to do.

By FITCamaro on 12/3/2007 12:20:44 PM , Rating: 4
What if I already ate my cake? Can I steal someone else's and then I'll have it and not eat it? Or I'll just make another cake and say its the original one so they'll think I didn't eat it.

RE: You can't have your cake and eat it....
By drakanious on 12/3/2007 12:28:22 PM , Rating: 4
There is no cake!

RE: You can't have your cake and eat it....
By Polynikes on 12/3/2007 12:50:56 PM , Rating: 5
The cake is a lie.
The cake is a lie.
The cake is a lie.
The cake is a lie.

RE: You can't have your cake and eat it....
By Gnoad on 12/3/2007 1:01:47 PM , Rating: 2
Normally I just sigh and shake my head whenever a new catch phrase appears, but Portal was just such a good game that I fully approve this one and hope it doesn't get replaced anytime soon.

RE: You can't have your cake and eat it....
By kilkennycat on 12/3/07, Rating: -1
By bodar on 12/3/2007 1:48:35 PM , Rating: 5
Guess it's a good thing he was referring to "The cake is a lie" then.

RE: You can't have your cake and eat it....
By ajira99 on 12/3/2007 12:30:42 PM , Rating: 2
The cake is a lie!!! Oh, and I agree with the original poster.

RE: You can't have your cake and eat it....
By JonnyDough on 12/3/07, Rating: 0
By spluurfg on 12/4/2007 12:02:50 AM , Rating: 3
Really? I would have figured stupid rich people would be the easiest targets.

Also from what I understand, it's one thing to profile people, but another entirely to surreptitiously mine information using adware that installs itself without informing you.

E.g. Google checkout profiles what stuff I buy and gives me some ads. Well, I guess I understood that they were going to know what stuff I purchased since I use them to process payments. Apple iPhone mining your credit card details and purchasing habits and sending it back to Mr. Jobs? Not as well understood, since I thought I was just using the internet on my phone...

RE: You can't have your cake and eat it....
By TomZ on 12/3/2007 12:56:45 PM , Rating: 5
Want to social-network and still enjoy privacy?

Huh, how are the two related at all? You're getting caught up in the words and surface definitions.

If I decide to join a social network, that doesn't mean that I expect them to plunder my browsing history, purchase history, or anything else. If I join a social network, that only means that I want to share things like my made-up name and maybe some other selective facts about myself. It's not a carte blanche for the social network provider.

By darkfoon on 12/4/2007 3:06:55 AM , Rating: 2
I agree.
The information I provide to a social network is information that I am comfortable sharing with absolute strangers.
However, I am not alright with them installing software that seeks out information that I am NOT EXPLICITLY sharing with them. My browsing history is not something that I am posting in my Facebook notes, so I don't think they should have access to it.

I joined facebook because I enjoyed its clean interface over myspace's clutter and garish profiles. However, I am finding that facebook's recent conduct is giving me doubts...

Why the random links thrown in?
By mikecel79 on 12/3/2007 12:01:34 PM , Rating: 5
Is it me or does Dailytech really stretch to include links to their other articles? As an example
Facebook is developing a bit of a big brother image with moves like this and a major recent investment from Microsoft

Is a Microsoft investment really seen as increading their big brother image? Just because they made an investment in the company doesn't meant they are contributing to this type of behavior. It really seems like the author tried to stretch that just so he can include the link to a previous Dailytech article. Isn't that the point of the "Related Articles" section on right hand side of the page?

I really like this site but it seems like they really stretch sometimes to include a link to a previous story.

RE: Why the random links thrown in?
By TomZ on 12/3/2007 12:05:24 PM , Rating: 5
C'mon, don't you know by now that Microsoft is the root of all evil? This change by Facebook is obviously the fault of Microsoft, just like everything else that is wrong in the world.

(I'm kidding, by the way.)

RE: Why the random links thrown in?
By Screwballl on 12/3/2007 12:39:16 PM , Rating: 2
I wouldn't be kidding, without guidance from MS, they wouldn't have taken this spyware ridden approach that is so notorious with MS. Just check out the MS Live One Care packages and see that it is the lowest rated antivirus/antispyware package ever created by any company. That is sad that MS refuses to even remove a basic cookie as spyware or tracking cookie.

This is also another reason why I avoid social networking sites aside from a few forums where personal info is not needed or suggested. I go out and meet real people, not sit in front of a computer chatting with geeks (I am at work now posting so this doesn't count).

RE: Why the random links thrown in?
By xti on 12/3/2007 1:11:26 PM , Rating: 2
not everyone sits in front of a computer and chats with geeks, facebook started as a university social network only, and gained a lot of popularity as it nicely replaced the paper flyer for a lot of things on campus, as well as help break the ice with new classmates (and then turn into a supplemental communication aid).

Many still use it for its original intents and purposes because its an accepted medium, but thats why opening it up to non students caused a lot of uproar. its been down hill since.

By Oregonian2 on 12/3/2007 2:30:52 PM , Rating: 2
Isn't Beacon the "product" that yahoo uses (there used to be convoluted instructions on how to opt out of it)?

By Snuffalufagus on 12/3/2007 7:33:07 PM , Rating: 2
"without guidance from MS, they wouldn't have taken this spyware ridden approach..."

What the hell! Do you make stuff up all the time or is this a special occasion so you can create a little extra FUD for the holidays? If you can show any proof that this is anything but your own conjecture I'll eat some reindeer poop.

By helios220 on 12/3/2007 1:21:32 PM , Rating: 3
The Microsoft link in this case is more coherent than many I have seen in other DT articles.

I've encountered quite a few DT articles where less than 50% of the content is actually the story, the rest are stretches to try and include loosely related links to past blogs.

I respect the writing staff and enjoy the site overall, but in my opinion the constant cross-referencing of other DT articles more than often detracts from the blog. I wish they would do it less often.

Facebook's downfall
By kextyn on 12/3/2007 11:34:17 AM , Rating: 3
I started using Facebook when they started allowing anyone to use the site. I found it to be a well built site that would load pages very quickly and didn't have any added bloat that didn't need to be there. The best part was people couldn't add a bunch of annoying stuff to their profile page.

As soon as they started the extensions and all this other stuff it just turned me away. I get so many emails and messages about these stupid social addons from my friends on there. I'm contemplating deleting my profile, but will probably end up setting my preferences to not send me any notifications except for friend requests and messages. I have no desire to visit the site anymore unless someone I know wants to talk to me.

I'm sure there are a lot more people that are annoyed by the new Facebook as well. It's turning into Myspace 2.

RE: Facebook's downfall
By ajfink on 12/3/2007 11:52:58 AM , Rating: 3
Agreed, one of the advantages Facebook always had over MySpace was the cleaner appearance. Since the "applications" started popping up Facebook pages have turned into multi-colored circuses of pain-inducing eye-vomit. I haven't added any myself, even though I use Facebook very frequently.

Though I understand why Facebook does all this from a business standpoint (they make tons of money through applications and now apparently Beacon, as well), it makes me pine for the days when it was just us college students and a classy interface.

It's still better than MySpace, but that gap is closing rapidly, and not because MySpace is improving itself.

RE: Facebook's downfall
By KorruptioN on 12/3/2007 9:02:13 PM , Rating: 2
Ditto. I flat-out refuse to add any applications to my page. They simply aren't needed.


Clarification please
By cochy on 12/3/2007 11:36:46 AM , Rating: 2
The article mentions this software tracking purchases outside of Facebook. Does Facebook some how locally install any software on PCs?

RE: Clarification please
By troublesome08 on 12/3/2007 11:55:03 AM , Rating: 2
I am also wondering this? How is it tracking info when i'm off the site? i don't recall installing any software from facebook unless it was one of those stupid apps, maybe the software is hidden in those?

RE: Clarification please
By pattycake0147 on 12/3/2007 12:05:18 PM , Rating: 2
From what I can gather the tracking is done by the website you make the purchase from. Beacon is controlled by the website.

By wallijonn on 12/4/2007 10:34:50 AM , Rating: 3
The link says
No personally identifiable information is shared with an advertiser in creating a Social Ad.
but it also says
Facebook users will only see Social Ads to the extent their friends are sharing information with them.
an ad system that facilitates the spread of brand messages [B]virally[/b] through Facebook Social Ads

Sounds like a Spam Virus to me. Who hasn't received a telephone call saying that "a friend referred you to us"? How is an email spam any different than what Beacon does?

Don't be surprised if all your friends now know that you're buying Viagra.

“The core of every user’s experience on Facebook is their page and that’s where businesses are going to start as well,” explained Zuckerberg. “The first thing businesses can do is design a page to craft the exact experience they want people to see.”

Spam. Individualised spam. Spam just for you. Aren't you special?

Do I need to use Facebook?
By elegault on 12/3/2007 10:36:37 AM , Rating: 2
In light of this information...I will likely use Facebook less frequently even if at all.

I stopped reading PC World because their website was/is full of pop-ups and the like.

Now it looks like Facebook is off my list next.

By Maluno on 12/3/2007 11:02:49 AM , Rating: 2
Social networking giant Facebook deals with frustrated users who feel it violated their privacy.

Sorry, I'm not aware of the protocol for dealing with typographical errors like this one. Please forgive me if I've overstepped some sort of social code. Plus, I'm not normally so anal about things like this, but it just seems that it should CHICKENZ CHICKENZ CHICKENZ

Dont buy any embarrassing gifts!
By Proteusza on 12/3/2007 11:35:45 AM , Rating: 2
Wow, your friends could see all the embarrasing gifts you buy.

how they track it
By zander55 on 12/3/2007 7:59:28 PM , Rating: 2
i'm still not understanding exactly how they go about tracking what you buy on other web sites. i read the original statement and it leaves it pretty ambiguous. are they using cookie trackers? email address? ip address? how do they associate the store account with the facebook account?

Social networks blow...
By riddance on 12/3/07, Rating: -1
RE: Social networks blow...
By Homerboy on 12/3/2007 10:35:12 AM , Rating: 2
thanks for the ignorant insight.

RE: Social networks blow...
By mdogs444 on 12/3/2007 10:44:36 AM , Rating: 2
Although in a way I agree with you, but only because I dont use them or see a use for them.

However, many people do, in fact - enough people to where the site is worth billions. I'd say it safe to say that an overwhelming amount trump our thoughts.

RE: Social networks blow...
By Proteusza on 12/3/2007 11:38:26 AM , Rating: 2
Its actually amazing that so many people have been conned into reading adverts all day and enjoying it.

RE: Social networks blow...
By FITCamaro on 12/3/2007 12:25:13 PM , Rating: 4
Not really. Millions of people still watch Survivor and American Idol. So the fact that Facebook and MySpace have prospered as much as they have really doesn't surprise me. I've lost a lot of faith in the ability of the human race to survive in the past few years.

RE: Social networks blow...
By Proteusza on 12/3/2007 12:42:59 PM , Rating: 2
At least we know the cockroaches will be alive.

RE: Social networks blow...
By TomZ on 12/3/2007 1:06:41 PM , Rating: 2
Not really. Millions of people still watch Survivor and American Idol.

There seems to be a large market for "dumb entertainment," and I think it has always been that way. Maybe it makes people feel better about themselves when the see someone else being an @aa on TV. Not sure.

RE: Social networks blow...
By sweetsauce on 12/3/2007 1:35:51 PM , Rating: 2
Entertainment that allows you to watch in a vegetative state will always be popular. Throw in the fact that you can make fun of the people you are watching and its entertainment gold.

RE: Social networks blow...
By bodar on 12/3/2007 2:22:47 PM , Rating: 1
Not to mention the matchmaking reality show "A Shot at Love" starring MySpace whore Tila Tequila. It's like an unholy union.

"There is a single light of science, and to brighten it anywhere is to brighten it everywhere." -- Isaac Asimov
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