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