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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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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.

"Google fired a shot heard 'round the world, and now a second American company has answered the call to defend the rights of the Chinese people." -- Rep. Christopher H. Smith (R-N.J.)
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