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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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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.


"What would I do? I'd shut it down and give the money back to the shareholders." -- Michael Dell, after being asked what to do with Apple Computer in 1997
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