The bad news about Facebook's Beacon program, user tracking, and privacy concerns just keeps piling up. Now Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook are under fire from consumers, journalists, activist and advocacy groups, and even its own advertising partners.
Today's biggest revelation, reported by PC World, is that "Facebook has confirmed findings of a CA security researcher [Stefan Berteau] that the social-networking site's Beacon ad service is more intrusive and stealthy than previously acknowledged, an admission that contradicts statements made previously by Facebook executives and representatives," including email correspondence between Berteau and Facebook's privacy department, as well as statements made by Facebook vice president Chamath Palihapitiya to The New York Times.
The internet makes it incredibly hard to not to publicly contradict yourself. My favorite examples are always Microsoft and open source, but it seems that Facebook is the new poster child for executives who have no idea what's going on with their companies.
In an interview last week with the NY Times, a Facebook exec ensured us that Beacon wasn't sending information after you logged out."Absolutely not. One of the things we are still trying to do is dispel a lot of misinformation that is being propagated unnecessarily," Palihapitiya replied.
But wait...as it turns … Read more
The New York Times has some great advice for Facebook: be patient, just as Google has been.
There is something astoundingly tone deaf about how Facebook has handled its recent advertising initiatives. Mr. Zuckerberg is right: there are lots of people who would find it cool to tell the world what movies they just rented and even what color socks they just bought. But [Facebook has] got to know that others would find this intrusive....
So the challenge to Facebook is clear: If you want to be as ambitious as Google, you may need to be as patient as Google … Read more
Whether or not Facebook kills its much-derided Beacon program, the controversy surrounding intrusive marketing surveillance deserves to flourish.
You remember the old story about the frog placed in a pot of water that was slowly heated up, until it was cooked? When I read the about Facebook's reaction to the anti-Beacon protests, my first impression is that Facebook's concessions are essentially along the lines of, "OK, we turned up the heat a bit too much on this one, so we'll turn it back down a little bit--for now." Are marketers counting on the fact that we'll get used to the warm bath, then the hot tub, calibrating their fine-tuned ability to stop just short of the lobster pot?
CNN.com contributes a story, "Ad targeting improves as Web sites track consumer habits," which covers the Facebook issue among other case studies. Marketers are studying the sensitivity level of consumers to intrusive advertising and adjusting their programs accordingly. For example, CNN.com reports, "Most Web sites and marketers have been shunning the ultimate targeting--ads that greet you by name. Yahoo could easily do that using registration information, but 'I'm not sure people would like that or not,' said Richard Frankel, Yahoo's senior director of product marketing."
The CNN story continues:"Users' comfort with data profiling has indeed shifted over the years. Google faced criticism when it introduced an e-mail service that paired ads with the words inside private messages. Millions of people now use Gmail with scarcely a blink.
Users will eventually embrace the latest tactics, too--and by then, they'll complain about even deeper levels of intimacy yet to be invented, said Tracy Ryan, professor of advertising research at Virginia Commonwealth University
'You want to have enough targeting that a consumer notices the message and pays attention, but you don't want it to be so obvious that they are thinking (there) is targeting,' she said. 'That would be scary.'"… Read more
3:14 p.m. PT: This post has been updated with the results of the hearing involving Facebook and 02138 Magazine.
There's a cliched old joke among the Ivy League set: how many Harvard students does it take to screw in a lightbulb? The answer: only one. He holds that bulb and the world revolves around him.
It's a somewhat fitting jab in the latest back-and-forth spat involving social-networking site Facebook's powerful legal team, as the skirmish has brought out the ugly sides of both the Palo Alto, Calif.-based dot-com and the Harvard alumni magazine attempting … Read more
Facebook's "Beacon" advertising program nearly ran aground this week.
First, the liberal activist group MoveOn.org tore into the strategy, which shares members' activity from third-party sites on their Facebook "news feeds," as an invasion of privacy. Then MoveOn upped the ante earlier this week over the program's lack of an opt-out control. Then, on Thursday, reports began to surface that the program was close to being heavily altered or even cut altogether. The advertising program continues to be scrutinized by legal experts, and several advocacy groups have already filed complaints to the Federal … Read more
Today Facebook announced modifications to the Beacon advertising program as CNet's Caroline McCarthy reports:On Thursday evening, under heavy pressure from users, Facebook made some alterations to Beacon: "We appreciate feedback from all Facebook users and made some changes to Beacon in the past day," a statement from the company read. "Users now have more control over the stories that get published to their Mini-Feed and potentially to their friends' News Feeds."
This post has been updated to clarify the names of companies participating in the Beacon program.
Facebook has altered its controversial "Beacon" advertising program, following complaints by users and protests from activist groups like MoveOn.org. The Beacon ads, which project Facebook users' activity on third-party partner sites--retailers like Blockbuster and eBay, for example--to their friends' "news feeds," are a key part of Facebook's much-hyped new social-advertising program, but they hadn't received the friendliest of reception.
It's a situation reminiscent of the one last year when the initial launch of Facebook's News … Read more
In the wake of reports that suggested Facebook might be close to axing its controversial Beacon advertising program altogether, a company employee has come out and said that while changes to the application are imminent, it's not going away.
This follows a BusinessWeek report from Wednesday that indicated the program would be tweaked or even eliminated altogether.
Beacon, a component of Facebook's new "Social Ads" initiative, was assailed soon after its debut by leftist activist group MoveOn.org over what the group saw as grave privacy concerns. MoveOn stepped up its rhetoric earlier this week when … Read more