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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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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...

"The Space Elevator will be built about 50 years after everyone stops laughing" -- Sir Arthur C. Clarke
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