Facebook Beacon Drama Continues

It has been an eventful few days in the world of Facebook Beacon. According to a study by Computer Associates, Facebook Beacon is transferring information from third-party sites after you have logged off from the Facebook site. While this information is not displayed in your newsfeed, Facebook could store the data and use it to profile your shopping behavior online. I have reached out to Facebook and am awaiting a response.

Last week I was sent an email by a reader who had deconstructed the actions of Facebook Beacon. Of particular interest to me was that Facebook was notified of purchase information prior to a user confirming whether or not they approved that information being displayed. Chris Kelly, Facebook’s Chief Privacy Offier, informed me that Facebook discarded purchase information if the user did not want that information to be displayed.

In the latest Beacon drama, Facebook is accused of storing information even if the user is no longer logged into Facebook. While I’m not aware of whether or not Facebook stores this data, this is yet another bump in Facebook’s experience with the new Beacon service. Now reports have surfaced that Coke has decided to delay their involvement with Facebook Beacon. All is not well in Facebook land. Controversy surrounding ConnectU’s suit against Facebook has been compounded with Beacon issues amounting to a very difficult week for Facebook.

While much of the drama will be resolved over the coming weeks, Facebook’s test of user privacy limits have exposed them to excessive media backlash. Facebook has proven their willingness to change and I’m confident that they will continue to make adjustments as called for by users and media. Do you think Facebook is doing enough to protect users’ privacy?

Update
Facebook has released the following statement regarding the most recent controversy surrounding beacon:

When a Facebook user takes a Beacon-enabled action on a participating site, information is sent to Facebook in order for Facebook to operate Beacon technologically. If a Facebook user clicks “No, thanks” on the partner site notification, Facebook does not use the data and deletes it from its servers. Separately, before Facebook can determine whether the user is logged in, some data may be transferred from the participating site to Facebook. In those cases, Facebook does not associate the information with any individual user account, and deletes the data as well.

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