Friday, November 30, 2007

Do you want your BFF to know you're into leather?

Been spending some time on Facebook, just trying to figure out what all the fuss is about. Social networking is a trend on the 'net; I saw a definite drop in the amount of email I was receiving, then when I started using Facebook, and Gather, I realized that's where everyone had gone.

Again, I'm still trying to figure out what all the fuss is about. It's a lot of work to keep your Facebook presence alive, and I really don't see why I want to know why so-and-so is happy today, or just added the Boogers and Snot application. It's an interesting concept for keeping in touch with your friends, but like so many things on the Internet, it has a long way to go, and it's going to depend on a lot of intense technological advances to keep it alive, along with a lot of creativity.

But, for all of you Facebook fans/users, here's an interesting little tidbit that C passed along to me from Facebook is using its users as shills, and maybe there's a few things you may not want your BFF to know, like you just ordered that black leather bodice, size XXL.

The link is a little weird, so I just grabbed the text. Just so I don't break any copyright infringement laws, I'm attributing this to Go Visit today. Name your first-born kid

Here's the article:

Facebook caves on privacy-invading ads, kind of

Along with many other Facebook users, I've been agitating for the social network to shut down or improve Beacon, the ad program that sends your friends Facebook alerts about your activity across the Web.

Yesterday Facebook made some changes to the program. They go far in addressing the worst aspect of the system: Now if you do not give Facebook permission to alert your friends about your activity on one of Facebook's advertisers' sites, Facebook will not send out an alert. Previously, if you did not give Facebook permission -- that is, if you did nothing -- Facebook assumed you were OK with Beacon ads.

But Facebook did not completely address critics' concerns. Specifically, it still is not allowing users to completely bow out of Beacon. Critically, this means that if you do something on a Facebook partner site, Facebook still gets information about your actions, whether you like it or not.

Beacon is a form of what marketers call "social ads." It's sort of the Web equivalent of word-of-mouth. When you do something on Fandango -- buy a movie ticket, say -- or one of Facebook's other advertisers' sites, the companies try to send out alerts, through Facebook, to your friends, in the hopes that they will follow your example.

Initially, Beacon gave people little choice over whether Facebook's advertisers could send messages from you.

Now, says Facebook, the first time you use a Facebook partner site, you will be given a choice to opt in to Beacon alerts for that site.

Say you buy something from Overstock. When you next check your Facebook page, you'll see a note asking if you'd like to send an alert about your Overstock experience to your friends. If you do nothing, Facebook does not send out the message.

That is progress., which had launched a campaign against Beacon, says that the move represents a "victory" for the program's critics.

But because Facebook is not allowing you to completely shut down Beacon, there are still privacy problems with the program, as developer Nate Weiner points out on his blog.

Weiner says that when he visited to Kongregate, a game site that advertises on Facebook, he got a notice asking him if he'd like to send a Beacon alert to his friends. He clicked "no thanks." But when Weiner analyzed what his browser did in response, he noticed that Kongregate sent data to Facebook anyway.

Weiner notes, "I'm not saying that Facebook is storing this data, there is no way for me to know. But they are without a doubt receiving it."

Is there a way to prevent Facebook from learning what you do on its partner sites? Indeed, there is. Use Firefox, and install a plug-in to block Beacon.

1 comment:

jpastor said...

Facebook is super fun I have to admit i'm addicted to it. Not so much into the Boogers and Snot app.

I had no idea about this Beacon situation. I wouldn't mind knowing what it is my contacts are buying online I think, but it is a little embarrassing to think my purchasing habits are being broadcasted to randon-ass contacts.

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