MoveOn to Facebook: stop violating user privacy

Adam sez, " launched a campaign pressuring Facebook to stop violating people's privacy by revealing what they bought online. A new Facebook feature called Beacon automatically shares books, movies, or gifts that Facebook users buy on web sites across the Internet. Without authorization, Facebook shares these information with a person's Facebook 'friends' which can number in the hundreds or thousands. MoveOn's campaign includes an online petition addressed to Facebook, a protest group within Facebook, and paid ads on Facebook." Link to Facebook group, Link to MoveOn campaign (Thanks, Adam!)


  1. Seems like a pretty dumb feature considering the time of year. Your friends and family see all the stuff you’ve bought and either feign surprise when they receive that gift or pummel you senseless for giving them one of the cheaper ones on your list.

  2. Not that I agree with the steps that facebook is taking for advertising, but I see where the idea is coming from. This is supposed to provide a viral marketing effect, where groups of friends will associate by purchasing similar products.

    They are taking steps towards user privacy. So saying that Beacon is done “Without Authorization” is a little harsh.


    “User privacy is extremely important to Facebook. We designed Facebook Beacon to enable effortless sharing, but we’ve also put in features to protect user privacy. When you send an action to Facebook, the user is immediately alerted of the story you wish to publish and will be alerted again when they sign into Facebook. The user can choose to opt out of the story in either instance, but the user doesn’t need to take any action for the story to be published on Facebook.”

    Basically, any user is prompted for permission once on the third-party website and again when they log into facebook. They can choose if Beacon stories are made public. However, the Third-party websites do all of the coding for such a request. The user has no say in what websites participate.

  3. Am I the only one left resisting the whole Facebook thingy?

    I’m glad I’ve stayed away from it, especially now when everyday I see something new about how Facebook is breaching privacy rights and all that. Not to mention there are no ways to get out of it. I see everyone’s around me, my friends, colleagues at work, they’re ALL on Facebook. It’s like everybody has become Facebook zombies or something, and if you are not part of it’s like you’re not cool or something. I don’t get it. Yes I’ve looked at it, yes I observed people using it, yes I see the potential, and yes I see where the hype comes from, but still, I don’t want it! I wish everyone could STOP asking me to get on it. I just don’t want! Can I?

    Fuck Facebook.

  4. Don’t users have to sign up for this service to be added to their FaceBook page? I can see where MoveOn would have a valid point if FaceBook forced users to have Beacon enabled without giving them a choice, but from what I can see on the Beacon info page, it’s a module you have to ADD to your page. If that’s the case, shouldn’t MoveOn maybe focus on educating its members to not do something stupid like violating their own privacy by signing up for it?

    Sorry, but it’s not FaceBook’s problem if it’s something you have to physically activate or sign up for…the problem belongs to the users who decide to share that information with their ‘friends’ online. Seems to me like the United States is continually moving further and further away from personal responsibility…and that’s just sad.

    Unless I’m totally missing something here…?

  5. It looks to me like a couple things are necessary:

    1) You have to use the same email for your online purchases as you do for Facebook.

    2) When a website tries to add that information to your feed, you have to approve it. Meaning you say its okay for it to show up.

    I keep several email addresses so I can compartmentalize what I do online, so this isn’t really a problem for me.

    Seriously people, common sense goes a long way.

  6. Indeed – I don’t understand the problem here. There’s a metric shit-ton of facebook apps that share all KINDS of personal information with your friends list… but first, you have to add the app, and second, you have to add people to your friends list for them to see it. So you’ve technically approved the sharing of this information TWICE.

  7. It sure sounds like a feature one must sign up for.

    Does the generation of cyberites who spend so much time giving away information about themselves ever stop to think about the irreversible aspect of what they are doing?

    Simply don’t check the box! Complaining after the fact will constitute not much more than a peep in a storm if the wrong people gain the positions of power that they are working so hard for.

    Of course one could spend their life consuming and playing at silly, trivial stuff that constitutes nothing. That would be sooooo much better than getting caught with the wrong book now by some dark transmutation of Homeland Security in the future.

  8. I looked on facebook.

    There is no application called “Beacon” or anything like it.

    It’s a “feature,” built into facebook, not an “application”- what they call the third-party software gizmos that users choose to have on their page.

    Moral of the story:
    You do NOT choose to have Beacon. Beacon chooses to have you, just because you are a facebook user, who uses the same email for online shopping and for facebook. Some people compartmentalize their email addresses for different uses. Most probably don’t.

    So this IS a problem: done without the user specifically signing up for it. It’s done automatically. (It might be buried under tonnes of legal jargon when you sign up for facebook, as of recently.)

  9. I know at least one fairly sophisticated computer user who inadvertently got this feature turned on. I don’t know exactly how he did it, but the choice can’t have been obvious.

  10. TOOGREEN, you’re not the only one, I have less than no interest in Facebook. And it’s not like I’m some cave-dwelling luddite, I have 2 blogs, a flickr account, even a MySpace (although I haven’t logged in in months) Twitter and Jaiku, blah blah blah online presence. I just don’t see the POINT of Facebook.

  11. “Am I the only one left resisting the whole Facebook thingy?”

    Nope. I think Facebook, MySpace and Twitter are all gargantuan wastes of time and space.

    I think these “social” sites are helping change the concept of privacy to align more with Donald Kerr’s definition:

    “Privacy no longer can mean anonymity. Instead, it should mean that government and businesses properly safeguard people’s private communications and financial information.”

    I also feel that they foster a false sense of “community” which is a poor substitute for the real thing.

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