Facebook backpedals on Beacon

Under pressure from moveon.org and others Facebook has changed it’s controversial Beacon feature, where outside purchases were published in a user’s news feed, to ‘opt-in’ rather than ‘opt out’.Users still will see their actions appear on their profile pages, but they will have to click “OK” for the item to turn up in their news feed where their friends can see it. If the user ignores the item, Facebook said it would not be published.

These changes will not give users the ability to permanently opt out of the program, however.

Acknowledging that this might not be the final solution to privacy concerns, Facebook said these changes may not be its last.

“We recognize that users need to clearly understand Beacon before they first have a story published, and we will continue to refine this approach to give users choice,” the company said in a statement.

Some critics were unmollified.

Jeff Chester, executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy (CDD) criticized what he describes as the “unholy” intersection of social media and advertising.

“It’s a shame that the controversy is just about Beacon,” he told InternetNews.com “It’s the entire set of new marketing practices that they created earlier this month.”

“By repeatedly offering to publish all of the user’s actions each time a purchase is made, Facebook is hoping that users will ultimately give in… too busy to make the decision each time,” he said. “Facebook still doesn’t want to face the privacy threats from its new, expanded, targeted profiling system.”

“Mark Zuckerberg just doesn’t get it. Facebook should be all about user control and privacy,” he said, adding that if it doesn’t do more for users’ privacy, “Facebook is likely to be a casebook for unfair and deceptive business practices in the 21st century.”

[source:InternetNews.com]

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