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Facebook Users Flip on Beacon: Lesson in Social Community Ethics

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Facebook Users Flip on Beacon: Lesson in Social Community Ethics

So, you’re the largest growing social media site and you think you can do whatever you want and users won’t care? Think again Facebook. When you create a community as big as Facebook which is its own little “country” online, it’s a democracy.

Some 50k plus Facebook users have signed a “…signed an online petition blasting the system, called “Beacon,” as a galling intrusion that put the Palo Alto-based startup’s pursuit of profit ahead of its members’ privacy interests,” reports FoxNews.com.

Foxnews.com also reports, “Facebook provided two different opportunities to block the details from being shared, but many users said they never saw the “opt-out” notices before they disappeared from the screen.”

I am a Facebook user and I’ve never seen any opt-out message about this. Do I mind Facebook uses my information for monetization purposes for advertisers? No. I understand its main source of revenue actually comes from advertising.

We saw this with Digg a few months back when diggers became outraged at the fact that a story exposing a dvd code hit the front page and was about to be pulled. Users want two things from their community.

1. Democratic Community
2. Privacy

Are Facebook Ads actually imposing on user privacy? No. Users voluntarily input their information onto the site to create a profile and share it with friends. No fields are required. Now, there may be other privacy issues with Facebook tracking user activity on other website, that’s another issue.

More than 40 different Web sites, including Fandango.com, Overstock.com and Blockbuster.com, had embedded Beacon in their pages to track transactions made by Facebook users.

Unless instructed otherwise, the participating sites alerted Facebook, which then notified a user’s friends within the social network about items that had been bought or products that had been reviewed.

Facebook thought the marketing feeds would help its users keep their friends better informed about their interests while also serving as “trusted referrals” that would help drive more sales to the sites using the Beacon system.

But thousands of Facebook users viewed the Beacon referrals as a betrayal of trust. Critics blasted the advertising tool as an unwelcome nuisance with flimsy privacy protections that had already exasperated and embarrassed some users.”

Facebook should not track activity outside of Facebook. Any user will feel privacy is violated once outside the network and feel stalked. Facebook is now promising users will have to give Facebook consent before any information is passed.

Pablo Palatnik is Managing Partner of eTrend Media Group, which specializes in Pay-Per-Click Management & Social Media Marketing.

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Pablo Palatnik

Pablo Palatnik

Pablo Palatnik is the author of the blog PalatnikFactor, focusing on all things Online Marketing and Search Engine Optimization specialist ... [Read full bio]

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