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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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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...


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