Thursday, December 6, 2007

Apologetic, Facebook Changes Ad Program

So Mark Zuckerberg, founder and chief executive Facebook, has apologized, says "they've made mistakes". Well, something tells me their deal with advertisers, and the use of Beacon, wasn't so much a "mistake" as an intentional desire to make as much money as possible.

Perhaps he means he made a mistake in getting caught?

At any rate, the Facebook flap highlights growing concerns about the increasingly sophisticated technologies used to track online activities in an effort to more precisely target advertising. It goes without saying these type of social networking sites have not exactly been forthcoming about how much user information they harvest, share, and with whom.

Nonetheless, as the New York Times article conveys, the Facebook story is one privacy advocates should feel good about. We made some noice, got some concessions, and now must broaden the scope of the fight.

The article details some of the reactions and aftermath to Facebook's apology:

Mark Zuckerberg, founder and chief executive of the social networking site Facebook, apologized to the site’s users yesterday about the way it introduced a controversial new advertising feature last month. Facebook also introduced a way for members to avoid the feature, known as Beacon, which tracks the actions of its members when they use other sites around the Internet.


Although Facebook has made the changes that and others requested, some users said they believed the company had not been forthcoming. “I feel like my trust in Facebook has been violated,” said Christopher Lynn, 30, a Facebook user who also writes a blog on social media. “Facebook created this space that was a private space, where we share our experiences, and to share this data behind our backs is upsetting.”


Jeff Chester, executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy, said Mr. Zuckerberg should have explained Facebook’s full advertising and data collection program to users.

The user needs to decide how their information is going to be used, whether it’s going to be used for targeting at all, which advertisers have access to it and whether Facebook has the right to collect and analyze it,” he said. “Facebook is saying it is a safe place for you to share your innermost secrets; what’s not being told to users is that they are selling those secrets.”

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