Mark Zuckerberg has apologized for the fiasco over Beacon, Facebook's controversial advertising system which reports users' activities across the Web to their friends. It turns out that, all these years later, he still values the trust of Facebook users. Of course, he has to remind us that trust is Facebook's highest regard every time he oversteps that trust. Maybe someone should remind the youthful CEO of his own views before he introduces a new feature which breaks that trust.
Maybe Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has so far declined to talk to Robert Scoble — real, fake, or otherwise — and other bloggers for a simple reason. He knows the vast majority of Facebook users, still mostly high school and college kids, don't know and don't care about Facebook Beacon. That's what the above poll indicates. It's not the only evidence.
Add this to the garbage in my Facebook news feed: I logged in this morning to find a "sponsored poll" about the Beacon advertising program. The poll didn't say who sponsored it, but I suspect it was Facebook itself. Freaked out by the reaction to Beacon ads, which report purchases and other actions taken on other websites to your Facebook friends, Facebook is trying to find its way through the fiasco. (Ryann from Facebook customer support writes to say, "Polls can be purchased by third parties, and we cannot give away any information on who purchased the poll. I apologize for any inconvenience that may cause.")
Last night, Facebook revised its policies on Beacon, the online-ad format some critics say violate users' privacy rights. MoveOn.org spokesman Adam Green called it "a huge step in the right direction," one that says "a lot about the ability of everyday Internet users to band together to make a difference." Never mind that war still rages in Iraq and George W. Bush is still in office. Hey, MoveOn, you win some, you lose some. (Photo by AP/J. Scott Applewhite)
For privacy advocates, it's a holiday miracle. Mark Zuckerberg's heart just grew three sizes. Facebook has just released a statement outlining several changes to Beacon, its online-advertising system which reports actions Facebook users take on other websites to their friends. The key takeaway? You can't opt out of Beacon completely, as some critics have asked, but reports on your activity — say, the fact that you just bought your girlfriend a ring on Overstock.com — won't be published without your "proactive consent," says Facebook. After the jump, the full statement.
In a landslide the likes of which we haven't seen since Brew PR's Brooke Hammerling destroyed Ogilvy's Justin O'Neill in a "snacky or flacky" head-to-head, 94.8 percent of readers believe that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg stole Christmas. All this because his new ad product might tell your friends which presents you're getting them. And Zuck had stiff competition, too. Scrooge essentially kills poor Tiny Tim and the Grinch, well, he made a right mess out of Who-ville, didn't he?
For now, Facebook only allows users to opt out of its Beacon ads, which target your friends based on what you do on other websites, on a site-by-site basis. But MoveOn.org, the activist group protesting Beacon over privacy concerns, says it doesn't have to be this way. In fact, the organization told News.com, screenshots leaked prior to Beacon's launch indicate that a systemwide opt-out was once intended as an option for users. Facebook only later decided to remove this option, it seems. Here's the evidence.