Facebook Backs off Beacon Advertising System - Broadcasting & Cable

Facebook Backs off Beacon Advertising System

Privacy Concerns Spurred the Move
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Beacon, Facebook’s advertising system, which was unveiled to much fanfare last month, is being scaled back dramatically after intense complaints by users, activist groups and advertisers.

When Beacon was unveiled, it was opt-out, and many users complained about the system violating their privacy and sharing information they did not want to be shared. PC World reported that even if users were logged out of Facebook, and they declined to share their purchases or reviews with their friends, Facebook would still collect the information on the user, leaving open the possibility that it could be sold to a third party later on.

Activist groups, such as MoveOn.org, joined the users in criticizing Beacon. Shortly thereafter, advertisers, including Coca-Cola and Overstock.com, spooked by the response, said they would not use the ad system until it became fully opt-in.

On his blog Wednesday, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg announced changes to scale back Beacon dramatically, allowing users to turn off Beacon completely if they so choose.

“We missed the right balance. At first, we tried to make it very lightweight so that people wouldn't have to touch it for it to work. The problem with our initial approach of making it an opt-out system instead of opt-in was that if someone forgot to decline to share something, Beacon still went ahead and shared it with their friends,” Zuckerberg said.

Still unclear is whether the changes will placate the disgruntled user base or bring the advertisers back to the program.

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