Facebook Beacon Drama Ceases to End

I would have thought that the Facebook drama would have ceased by now but it has instead continued to drag on. Will this drama kill Facebook Beacon? I’m not quite sure but what I do know is that bloggers have suddenly become obsessed with the topic. Erick Schonfeld has called Facebook’s policy of sending data from Beacon partners to their site whether you are signed in or not unacceptable. I couldn’t agree more. I have a funny feeling that Beacon is going to get shelved until they can redesign the service.

Passing personal data between sites is an extremely risky procedure. Additionally, any site that embeds Facebook Beacon is forced to provide personal data anytime a Beacon enabled page is loaded. There is no way around this currently unless Facebook were to develop a Beacon development library to the participating site. Perhaps that is what will have to happen in the end: a Facebook Beacon API. If a user isn’t logged into Facebook, the participating company doesn’t send data to Facebook and vice versa.

I honestly can’t think up any other solution. This whole Beacon experience has brought to light the larger issue of individual privacy rights on the web. I have to wonder if the same critics of Facebook Beacon have held other services such as Google Adsense and Google Analytics to the same type of scrutiny. I know that I haven’t and I don’t have the technical capacity to do so either. This is not to suggest that Beacon has not crossed into new territory but I don’t recall other services being held under the microscope.

The practice of thoroughly analyzing each of these products is a great one and I only hope that the same level of scrutiny is held for all other services. Additionally, I am beginning to wonder if Beacon is the primary service that Mark Zuckerberg believes will justify Facebook’s ridiculous valuation. If so, they may want to reconsider their business model. There are a number of other services that Facebook could begin to offer that would truly begin to provide value for the users rather than simply serving their commercial interests.

Do you think Beacon was supposed to be Facebook’s future source for revenue or simply an experiment with horrible results?

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