Caroline McCarthy has posted a great story about MoveOn.org’s launch of an anti-Facbeook Beacon campaign. The campaign consists of a paid ad campaign on Facebook protest group and an online petition. Just yesterday I was speaking with a journalist who pinged me for more details about Facebook’s Beacon system. He had purchased a new pair of shoes for his daughter at Zappos.com and that purchase was transferred to his Facebook newsfeed. If this purchase had been intended as a gift, his daughter would soon know about it thanks to the new Beacon service.
The biggest contention surrounding Beacon is the default opt-out setting. If you shop at a participating partner’s site, your Facebook account will automatically be notified. You have to then proceed to Facebook where you will have to opt-out of alerts being sent to your firends. If you don’t opt-out, your friends will soon be alterted to your purchase. The same thing goes for a few select game sites on the web where alerts of your gaming activity are inserted into your personal newsfeed.
This is ultimately a test of the limits of privacy on the web. Facebook started testing those limits with the launch of their newsfeed last year which resulted in a PR disaster. Our lives are becoming increasingly trasparent on the web and the real question is where will the line be drawn? We have gone pretty far down the path of transparency but I’m not quite sure that we’ve gone as far as we can go. You can bet that Facebook will be at the forefront, testing the privacy limits of their users.