Beacon: A Facebook Pricing Plan

Nick has written a lot about Beacon and seems keen on a global opt-out. That would help the user experience, but to the privacy campaigners the ability to turn it off is not crucial – having it turned on in the first place, without being properly notified, is what really riles them. And quite right too.

Some commentators have unhelpfully suggested that if you don’t want to use Beacon, just don’t use Facebook. That works… but in the arrogant aftermath of “there’s no opting out of advertising”, users weren’t given any warning to make a run for it.

If Facebook insists that the cost of using the service is full participation in Beacon, then that’s fine. But give us more than 40 seconds of screen-corner popup to make up our minds. Anyway – whoever heard of a form that disappears? You were always supposed to visit the bathroom while Overstock streams your credit card across the internet, but you can’t risk that anymore.

Are they afraid that users might not be interested in using it? Maybe so, and they should feel free to insist that their users participate. Just don’t blink after 40 seconds. Designing the system to trip users into it is unfriendly.

Now we know what Facebook want to charge users for their site, how should they go about collecting their dues? Ever pragmatic, might I suggest a possible user interface component, that Facebook could display when you visit the site following a Beaconed purchase:

Facebook Beacon Alert Screenshot

I’d be clicking “Yes”, by the way. But thank you for asking.