BeaconGate:Send-Receive Question Almost Answered

After I questioned if Facebook was continuing to receive information transmitted from partner sites (even if it wasn’t published), a researcher at Computer Associates came up with proof that indeed was the case. Facebook got in touch with the CA folks, and had this to say:

“When a Facebook user takes a Beacon-enabled action on a participating site, information is sent to Facebook in order for Facebook to operate Beacon technologically. If a Facebook user clicks “No, thanks” on the partner site notification, Facebook does not use the data and deletes it from its servers. Separately, before Facebook can determine whether the user is logged in, some data may be transferred from the participating site to Facebook. In those cases, Facebook does not associate the information with any individual user account, and deletes the data as well.”

This seems like a non-denial denial, but lets just assume they are doing the right thing – they have had a rough weekend. After all they were denied their request to take down some confidential documents that were made available on the 01238 magazine website as part of an article called, Poking Facebook.

To Save Its Bacon, Facebook Weakens Beacon

Update: Three weeks is a long time on the Internet. It was on Nov. 6 that I raised the question: Is Facebook Beacon a Privacy Nightmare? Three days later, my next post, Facebook’s Cruel Intentions elicited some response from the Palo Alto, Calif.-based company, which responded and clarified their position. But soon after, the situation got a bit out of control. MoveOn.org got involved and the whole thing started to look like a major PR disaster.

In a classic example of marketing doublespeak, the company saw privacy concerns as an issue in the minds of pundits. (Never heard them complain about pundits praising their “innovations.”) A few hours later, the Palo Alto-based company outdid John Kerry when it came to flip-flopping and announced what are being perceived as big changes to the Beacon system. Read More about To Save Its Bacon, Facebook Weakens Beacon

Facebook Beacon Revamp: Will It Go Far Enough?

Facebook may announce alterations to the Beacon social advertising system as early as today, according to BusinessWeek. Perhaps Facebook will now allow global opt-out of publishing third-party activities on the Facebook site — and this would appease many who have complained.
But that may not go far enough in protecting users’ privacy. Some people may also want the ability to stop Facebook not just from publishing information from third-party sites, but also from gathering that information at all. Read More about Facebook Beacon Revamp: Will It Go Far Enough?

Updated: Facebook’s Cruel Intentions, Facebook Responds

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Updated: Facebook Responds, and explains.

It has been 48 hours since I asked Facebook to clarify the point about whether a user’s data is still being passed to them from their web partners even after the user chooses to opt out of Beacon.
I’ve since given it a lot of thought and decided that I was not being judgmental in my previous post. Here, after all, is what Mark Zuckerberg told Portfolio.
* “The ads are going to feel like content to a lot of people.”
* “There is no opting out of advertising.”
Scary, isn’t it? Anyway, Nate Weiner, writing on Idea Shower, is also worried about Beacon — and he’s come to a similar conclusion: Any opt out is that of perception and publishing. (He came to this conclusion while playing games over on Kongregate.) Read More about Updated: Facebook’s Cruel Intentions, Facebook Responds

Is Facebook Beacon a Privacy Nightmare?

Mark Zuckerberg & Co. stood up in front of the advertising community in New York today and unveiled Facebook Ads, an ad system that allows companies to use the Facebook social graph and to develop highly targeted ads. Large brands such as Coca-Cola (KO), Sony Pictures (SNE) and Verizon (VZ) have signed on for this effort. Part of the engine powering this new ad system is called Beacon, which takes data from 44 web destinations and mashes it up with Facebook’s internal information to help build more focused advertising messages.
While it seems to be a clever idea, a quick review reveals that Beacon might turn out to be a privacy hairball for the company. [digg=http://digg.com/gaming_news/Google_expands_game_ad_network_platform_turns_to_Old_Man_Murray]
The 44 sites that have partnered with Facebook include everyone from Kongregate, LiveJournal, NYTimes (NYT), Sony Online, Blockbuster (BBI), Bluefly.com, STA Travel, The Knot, TripAdvisor, Travel Ticker, TypePad, viagogo, Vox, Yelp, WeddingChannel.com and Zappos.com.
Read More about Is Facebook Beacon a Privacy Nightmare?

OpenSocial Advertising for All!

[qi:010] MySpace has signed on to OpenSocial, bringing to its 100-plus million users the wonders of mini social applications à la Facebook F8. MySpace (NWS) already announced plans to open their platforms to third-party developers, but the Google (GOOG) connection comes as a bit of a surprise.

Social media standards pioneer Dave Winer says, “Google has a long way to go to build the base of users and developers connected using the new protocols that is the subject of all this chest-thumping” and calls it a tech PR war. That it is, though it could have far-reaching effects on the web. Most tech standards efforts come to nothing, but if Google is successful in getting many big and little social nets speaking one language internally, it may not be too long before they start discussing amongst themselves, too.

That’s both happy and sad for the users, who may finally get their longed-for universal online social graph at the same time they open themselves up to constant and intrusive socially-based advertising.