Zuckerberg’s Mea Culpa, Not Enough

Update: Frankly, I am myself getting sick and tired of repeating myself about the all-important “information transmission from partner sites” aspect of Beacon. That question remains unanswered in Zuckerberg’s blog post, which upon second read is rather scant on actual privacy information. Here is what he writes:

If you select that you don’t want to share some Beacon actions or if you turn off Beacon, then Facebook won’t store those actions even when partners send them to Facebook.”

So essentially he’s saying the information transmitted won’t be stored but will perhaps be interpreted. Will this happen in real time? If that is the case, then the advertising “optimization” that results from “transmissions” is going to continue. Right!

If they were making massive changes, one would have seen options like “Don’t allow any web sites to send stories to Facebook” or “Don’t track my actions outside of Facebook” in this image below.


I think Facebook needs to clarify this point further, because currently, despite this mea culpa, I don’t think it’s easy to trust Facebook to do the right thing with the information they continue to collect. You can also share your thoughts on our Facebook Question of the Day Application. (Original post below the fold.)

Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg, after taking it on the chin for nearly two weeks, is apologizing about the company’s Beacon advertising platform fiasco. In his blog post, in which he explains his side of the story and rationalizes his reasoning, there is one paragraph which says it all:

We’ve made a lot of mistakes building this feature, but we’ve made even more with how we’ve handled them. We simply did a bad job with this release, and I apologize for it. While I am disappointed with our mistakes, we appreciate all the feedback we have received from our users.

He goes onto say that while he thought Beacon was a great idea, the company might have gone overboard.

The problem with our initial approach of making it an opt-out system instead of opt-in was that if someone forgot to decline to share something, Beacon still went ahead and shared it with their friends.

No shit! I think they tried to push the limits, and got some push back, and that’s that. Regardless, had people not contacted them, as Zuckerberg puts it, they would have gotten away with it.

Instead of acting quickly, we took too long to decide on the right solution. I’m not proud of the way we’ve handled this situation and I know we can do better.

I think this is a good move by Zuckerberg and I hope his team learns from it. This is the second time they have tried to test the limits of their community and gotten some flack for it. It would be better if they asked — they are a social community — and being social means listening and talking with each other first, not after the fact.

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