Late Thursday night, Facebook finally caved and said they’d turn Beacon into an opt-in rather than opt-out program, though you have to opt-in on a site-by-site basis.
Despite the change, one concern raised by many remains: Beacon still appears to collect your information and send it to Facebook, even if you don’t opt in.
The question then, as Nate Weiner points out, is what does Facebook do with that info?
Seems to me you have a few choices if you want to stay on Facebook:
- You could just accept that Beacon exists and not worry about it.
- You could be vigilant and use the Firefox BlockSite plugin and block
http://www.facebook.com/beacon/*. (Nate has visual instructions.)
- You could avoid the companies that have signed up with Beacon, if you can figure out just who those companies are.
At launch, there were 44 partners. I haven’t found all of them, but from the FAQ, they include AllPosters.com, Blockbuster, Bluefly.com, CBSSports.com and Dotspotter (both part of CBS Interactive), eBay, ExpoTV, Fandango, Gamefly, Hotwire, IAC brands (CollegeHumor, Busted Tees, iWon, Citysearch, Pronto.com and echomusic), Joost, Kiva, Kongregate, LiveJournal, Live Nation, Mercantila, National Basketball Association, NYTimes.com, Overstock.com, (RED), Redlight, SeamlessWeb, Sony Online Entertainment LLC, Sony Pictures, STA Travel, The Knot, TripAdvisor, Travel Ticker, Travelocity, TypePad, viagogo, Vox, Yelp, WeddingChannel.com and Zappos.com.
But as Business Week points out, that could put the company in a difficult position. Advertisers who signed on were expecting a boon from Beacon, if not in profit, then at least in goodwill. Facebook was also counting on Beacon to bolster its valuation. But users have threatened to abandon the service and smear the company name — this isn’t the first time members have accused the site of invading individual privacy.
Executives can huff all they want about privacy being an illusion in a digital age. But this latest backlash seems to be more fodder for public claims that big business is out of touch with real-world expectations.