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back to article Facebook CEO capitulates (again) on Beacon

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has issued a mea culpa to his 56 million users, saying he failed to give them the ability to control the personal information that is shared with others. He also announced a new switch that with one flip allows people to completely turn off the feature, which is dubbed Beacon. "We simply did a bad …

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Anonymous Coward

Never had a myspace page or face book account...

and thanks to the bitch ceo, I never will.

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I've never actually been to myspace or facebook

And from what I'm hearing about them, I don't think I want to.

I can't figure out though how people can put info online, and then expect it to stay private. *shrugs*. When I do need to put in a name and details, good luck with the site provider linking it back to anything about me but an IP addy.

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Alert

settings

"Privacy" -> "External Websites" -> Tick box labelled: "Don't allow any websites to send stories to my profile." then click on "Save"

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Dead Vulture

For 15B read 240M

Why do journalists keep maintaining that Facebook is worth 15Bn?

Yes yes I know the maths point in that direction but, in reality, no-one else is ever going to buy shares at the price MS did (MS only paid that much to lock out Google).

So Facebook is really only worth $240 million less the cash it's burnt to date...

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To those who seem to blame the users...

There was no reason until Beacon that Facebook membership was a privacy risk. There is nothing inherently wrong with posting your contact information and a few photos. (Nevermind the fools who publish their entire lives; what you put online is your own responsibility, and you don't need social networking websites to destroy your own privacy). The privacy problem with Beacon is not Facebook - The problem is the retailers who have no right to give away my purchasing records. Joe Facebook buys anal beads on Amazon, Amazon tells all of his facebook friends, and you blame him, for what - for revealing his name and email address? Corporations colluding to link up and disclose the information they collected about him was NOT a foreseeable consequence of joining Facebook.

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Facebook Apologies Are Cyclic

I'm a little surprised The Register didn't mention this, but Zuckerberg's blog comment today strongly resembled a post made over a year ago. In fact, the similarity is so striking it's almost creepy.

See for yourself: http://blog.facebook.com/blog.php?post=2208562130

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I just dont get it at all

As in the greed driven masturbatory fantasies that seem to surround myspace, facebook etc. Its a bit like an extension of the 80's obession with filofaxs and CB, or the nineties preoccupation with pointless meetings and "networking" (FFS!). Surely these 50 odd million sad life-free tossers will eventually get bored of validating their pointless existences by acquiring "friends", and move on to the next project of th Golgafrinchan Ark B tendency, leaving DorkBook etc with the market value of my local chippy.

That something exists to make Sadville look interesting by comparison amazes me, but social networking seems to be it. If the future of the human race is finding ever more banal ways to force people to view an eternity of bloody adverts, it's time to get into the hot bath and reach for the razor blades.

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Coat

Shouldn't that be...

..."Mea culpa... canicula"?

The door's this way, is it? Ahh, thank you...

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tom

opt-in = "you must opt out for each site"?

I hate to be nit-picky (well, technically, that's a lie), but wouldn't that be an opt-out system?

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Thumb Down

@ To those who seem to blame the users...

After reading your comment, I agree with you. Might go see if I can make me a *cough* fake *cough* page.

While I personally don't encourage visits to these sites, I know a lot of people who do (and email me invites to their pages on the sites).

I've found that you can't view them unless you register your details first. They can shove that sh!t where the sun doesn't shine...

Got to go, there's some kids on my lawn!

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Anonymous Coward

Only idiots will keep on about $15b

After Skype, I can only imagine true idiots will value this Facebook @ $15b, Skype is a working product and does have great use in real life, but Facebook is a ... what ? its just a community circle for sad gits without a life, or a cell phone to talk to their friends.

Deep down, if it hit $1b when floated, I must rethink on the number of idiots walking on this planet.

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Coat

actually...

Shouldn't that be "mea culpa.... bitch"? (although Dave may have a point too...)

Ah. Yes. And the hat please...

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Silver badge

@Christopher Martin

"you don't need social networking websites to destroy your own privacy"

True, but thanks to social networking websites you can now destroy your privacy in view of the entire wired world. You can make yourself so ridiculous you will be instantly recognized from Alabama to Tokyo via Berlin and Cape Town, and that reputation will follow you until you see a plastic surgeon to change your face.

Before, you could make yourself the village idiot, but if the situation became intolerable you could pack and move to another village and start with a clean slate.

With the Internet, YouTube and the rest, if ever anything ridiculous gets posted about you, it is likely to be there for the rest of your life - and wherever you are, someone will find it sooner or later.

I'm guessing that that'll get real annoying in the long run.

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Happy

@Mark and others

We are social animals; our brain rewards us for gregariousness; and like any reward-reinforced behavior, social networking can easily become addictive. The marketeers have been trying to monetize social networking ever since they found this out (and I mean monetize in the sense of actually making money; not just over-hyping share values, which we all know is ultimately a losing game.)

Beacon is actually quite an innovative approach to monetization of facebook; but in Zuckerberg's frothing-at-the-mouth rush to market, he managed to not only trample all over his customer's privacy by revealing their private purchase habits; but shatter the thin veneer of mystique that separates social networking from being just one giant online circle jerk.

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Dam

Think I'm gonna sue for billions :p

See title.

Under french law I have an untouchable right to information I submit to companies.

The right to review, modify and delete it.

Think I'll try to close my account -which I never use-, be denied the possibility, and sue for 1 or 2 billions...

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Stop

You Really Don't Get It

Unfortunately you guys are showing a lack of understanding of why people are attracted to facebook, and how many people use it in the real world.

Of course you would rather listen to what some journos tell you, and rather than joining up and putting in minimal information to see why people go there you would rather harp on about how superior you are.

Facebook is the phenomenon it is not because of some belief that these people do not have a life, but rather because of the lives we now live, and because most people are fed up with the dump that has become the internet.

Facebook provides (or should that be provided) a safe haven from the rest of the internet. Whose email account doesn't get spam? Who isn't fed up of pop-ups, ridiculous flashing banner ads, etc?

Facebook avoids this simply by allowing only people you confirm as friends to contact you, and it does this in an incredibly simple way, especially if you compare with white and black lists for email (which don't work anywhere near as well).

Facebook approve individual ads they do allow, and are incredibly tight on what they will allow, I know from people who are at the leading edge of this the hoops they jump through.

Facebook also makes sharing photos with your friends extraordinarily easy, hence the reason that current estimates are that there are now twice as many photos on facebook as all of the other photo sharing systems put together.

Noone can see your pictures unless they are your friends and you allow them, compare that you any other photo sharing method around and you will see why it is so popular.

I have personally used it to contact family members I haven't spoken to in a long time. Facebook allows you to search by name, school, city, etc and then you can ask them if they would like to get back in touch. I would never have been able to do that in the "real" world, without a ridiculous amount of effort.

As far as "sharing" your personal details on their, well despite what no nothing journos tell you it doesn't happen. Again the only people who can see your details are people you allow to do so. Of course some people are friend harvesters, but in my experience they are few and far between, most people I come across have 50 or 60 friends at most (most like my wife have 20 or so).

Plus the number of shared details are pretty low in all honesty, the most "private" probably being your birthday.

The secondary and most "sad" level as you guys put it is the social elements, this is where friends can share their lives. You can put up a status saying what you are doing, share videos you have found, invite friends to groups (such as school reunion sites), and even share the silly apps that tend to go around. Again however this is all permission based, and as I have said this is where facebook is gaining traction.

So now maybe you can see why Beacon kicked up such a stink, this is an "application" that wasn't permission based. However a bigger fuss was made of this that needed to be, there were only a few people allowed into the Beacon testing. However it was foolish to epxect a community based on permission, to just accept this kind of "forced" or opt out setup.

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Flame

I must sound old

But I'm only 30! I just don't get this whole facebook/myspace crud. It's basically having a web page innit. 'Ooohh this is my first web site look at me on tha inturweb'. Complete with 'under construction' animated GIFs. Oh wait, hang on that was back in the 80s and 90s wasn't it? Back in the days when at school/college I was definitely in the nerd category :o) messing with computers and wotnot.

And now? Almost everyone I speak to, even people who rarely use a computer seem to have a myspace/facebook page. 'Have you got a myspace page?' they ask. Have I f*$$@: is my response. It was the thing to do in the geekset over 10-15 years ago and it was realised then that unless your web site actually has something useful on it, you're just wasting yours and everyone elses time trying to maintain it. But I guess the difference is that now that these sites have made it so easy to create a site that even the numpties (you know the ones, they click yes whenever a web page asks if it can install a trojan) can make one.

p.s. That may sound like an elitist rant, I apologise, it's not meant to be elitist, but it certainly is a rant.

p.p.s. My apologies to the numpties, some of whom I am good friends with. And yes, to this day I still occassionally go and help remove virii and spyware off their machines.

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opt in

The ultimate optin is of course signing up for these things.

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Jobs Halo

Nailed By Satire

FSJ scored a spectacular direct hit on this story:

http://fakesteve.blogspot.com/2007/12/faceberg-were-sorry-really-okay-not.html

Money quote (Fake Steve speaking) : "Of course we also have another advantage, which is that our business model aligns our interests with the interests of our customers. The happier they are, the more money we make.

Facebook's business model is the opposite. It pits Facebook against its customers. The amount of money that Facebook can make is defined (and constrained) by the degree to which its users will allow themselves to be exploited."

I don't think I've seen a more succinct summary of Facebook's mission anywhere.

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Tim

To the "I don't get it" posters

@Robert Harrison: You obviously haven't used Facebook at all, otherwise you'd realise your post is quite incorrect. Sadly you can't understand something if you haven't used it!

Think of Facebook as a sort of RSS Feed of what your friends are up to. I find it very hard to believe that of your friends/family that some of them don't have a Facebook account. Facebook is a good, spam and hassle free way to interact with them.

You all happily post your opinions to The Register, yet think Facebook is some terrible thing. It's hypocritical in my opinion. Facebook is just another way for people to post their opinions (albeit on more personal matters) about things.

The Reg asks for personal information (Where you work, purchasing power) etc when you sign up, why aren't you all posting about how you "Don't get it" for The Reg? Because you enjoy it reading/contributing to it? In the same way that everyone who Facebook enjoys reading and contributing to Facebook?

I am old (31), wary of all things Web2.0 etc. But I use Facebook. I check it say once/twice a week to see what people have been up to, occasionally add a comment to a friends photo etc.

Why is the appeal of being able to do that so hard to understand? Yes, these are real, actual friends of mine. Thus why I only have about 15 people listed as my friend in Facebook.

There's a lot of crap on Facebook, don't get me wrong. The stupid "apps" that people add are dumb and annoying and Beacon was plain and simple a stupid thing.

But you can easily control what information Facebook has about you by not giving it any. It has my email address and a few other details. That's all.

People are so happy to post about the extremes of Social Networking such as those people who seem to live to acquire as many virtual friends as possible, but for the majority of people, it's a fun easy way to stay in contact with their friends. Someone explain to me why "they don't get" that? Do you also not talk to your friends on the phone?

The concept of Facebook is a great one, I challenge anyone to tell me why it isn't. Sure, Facebook itself isn't brilliant (see Beacons, being unable to delete your account, targeted ads etc) but the fundamental concept, which is what draws people to it, is solid.

And fun.

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Paris Hilton

You think you know the meaning of love

"Surely these 50 odd million sad life-free tossers will eventually get bored of validating their pointless existences by acquiring "friends""

There is a certain Top Trumps quality to Facebook, and sites like it. If you have too few friends, people think you are smelly, but if you have too many they assume you are shallow. I wonder if there is an optimum number of friends to have? Not a round number, such as fifty, because that would be too obviously fake. Forty-seven. Once you have forty-seven friends you can then work on quality, by rotating them for higher-value friends, e.g. Stephen Fry, whose friendship is worth more than a dozen ordinary people. But beware the fake Stephen Fry. Smite the fake Stephen Fry with Burwhale, the Avenger!

Perhaps Facebook could publish an index of worthiness, related to the amount of friend requests a person has had. Michael Palin or John Bird would be Elite, Eddie Edwards probably Competent, you or I would be Mostly Harmless.

And thus Facebook etc devalue friendship. Where once friendship was forged in blood, it is now a mouse click and a glance over someone's photo album. Perhaps it is driving us apart and making us less human; perhaps it is the next stage of human evolution.

Who is friends with the whole world? Paris Hilton, of course. Which is why I choose her as my avatar.

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Syd

SPAM on Facebook

Well, I don't know much about much when it comes to Facebook, but I *DO* know that the office-girls in the pub last night were complaining about spam in their Facebook in-boxes. So, while it might actually be something they have inadvertently opted-in to, they certainly saw it as spam... and if it quacks like a dog...

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Boffin

Why this sudden drive to 'monetize' users?

It's rhetorical, wise-ass.

Truth is, the theoretical valuation that MS has now provided to Facebook (and the real money that they've pumped into the site) has suddenly put pressure on whatsisface ('bitch' guy) to show a return. Until that point, it was a fun venture that could get by on the kudos of being the new rising star of 'web 2.0'. After that point, there was a sudden realisation that companies that put money into Facebook are going to want a business model and financial returns.

And voila - lots of ill-thought outget rich quick schemes based on 'monetizing' (I hate that word) Facebook's users. Followed, amusingly enough, by a fair few retractions and apologies. In the longer term, it does nothing for his credibility, or, I suspect, the credibility of the next plan to make money from the site.

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Thumb Up

Re: I must sound old

"I just don't get this whole facebook/myspace crud. It's basically having a web page innit."

Unless your website is a method of contact people you have lost contact with, no Facebook isn't.

MySpace I grant you is much more of a 'look at me' kind of site where people just want to meet other strangers, and just be seen.

Facebook on the other hand is different. It's primary purpose is to contact people you already know. Unlike a website ONLY the people you have added as friends see your page, and not anyone that happens to stumble upon it on Google.

I only have information on my Facebook page that I am happy for anyone else to see. I also use an email address that is unique to Facebook. It does not get used anywhere else, so it is unlikely that my Facebook account will be linked with other online purchases based on email(although it also makes it impossible for people to find me using an email as a search).

If you take some simple precautions, and only publish things on your page that you'd be happy to discuss with your Boss, Facebook can be a useful tool.

For those that have never have a Facebook account then there is no basis to form an opinion on it, so it's probably best not to spout half-truths on something you know nothing about. It just makes you look like idiots.

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Koobecaf

@ Tim & Simon, hear hear! Glad to see people with some sense making comments.

Everyones turned into paranoid conspiracy theorists! As Tim & Simon were saying the large majority of the people that use facebook use it to communicate and keep in touch with real friends.

Great to chat shit over genius pics of times gone by and all that!

My concerns about privacy are small esp since theres minimal data on there about me.

And to people who are going on about 'sad' people with 'no lives' that is a pile of shite, ive got a big pile of mates who are the most social outgoing people, enjoy going travelling, partying and all that AND all use facebook! Its not like we spend all day on facebook, but its good to go on now and then see what new stuffs goin down.

I have to say tho that those apps for facebook are crap, and so fkin pointless, NO i dont want to be bitten by a non-existant vampire or be sent a virtual beer i want a real beer!

Rant over

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IT Angle

Big gay face book

Those of you that have facebook and post minimal information on it and have it set to friends only etc etc are not the majority of facebook users. The idea of social networking isn't bad, doing it online is still not bad. Making it a corporate entity that datamines you, forces adverts down your throat and sells shares to Microsoft.. tell me that isn't going to go bad.

Also for those uber defensives out there, you don't have to use something or be a member of something in order to comment on it. I'm not a member of Parliament for instance or an American but I can tell you that the UK Government sucks and Bush is mad. My feelings on Facebook et al are formed without owning one, that doesn't make me ill informed. Your feelings on Facebook et al make you look suspiciously like fanbois..

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Coat

"Sites that participate in Bacon"

Methinks someone has made a pigs ear...

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Happy

SPAM

Syd: Well, I don't know much about much when it comes to Facebook, but I *DO* know that the office-girls in the pub last night were complaining about spam in their Facebook in-boxes. So, while it might actually be something they have inadvertently opted-in to, they certainly saw it as spam... and if it quacks like a dog...

-----------------------------------

I have never had any spam yet, honestly. I can only imagine they have added fake friends. If they are getting spam simply reporting the user (using the report button), will probably result in that account being immediately closed.

If you think google or yahoo are facist, facebook make them look plain cutesy, I know people who have had accounts closed for submitting "dodgy" ads according to facebook, no appeal, no warning. By dodgy I am talking about things like the ad linking direct to an affiliate merchant.

Sign up, do a search for your old school, old friends/colleagues/family and see how easy it is. Don't take your opinion from journos and elitists on the net.

As mentioned facebook is very different to myspace, give it a try. Now if only I could monetize my posts!

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Dead Vulture

Mea Culpa?

Surely the appropriate Latin for the Beacon situation would be "Caveat Emptor".

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Pirate

It's not just about opt in and opt out, no, Beacon is REALLY evil

http://www.25hoursaday.com/weblog/2007/12/01/FacebookBeaconIsUnfixable.aspx

<quote>

When you read this you realize just how insidious the problem actually is. Facebook isn’t simply learning about every action taken by Facebook users on affiliate sites, it is learning about every action taken by every user of these affiliate sites regardless of whether they are Facebook users or not.

</quote>

Reckon that contrevenes DPA regulations in lots of countries. Hopefully, this analysis is wrong, but there's a pretty compelling code walkthrough...

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Alien

Re: You think you know the meaning of love

>>> I wonder if there is an optimum number of friends to have?

>>> Forty-seven

Perhaps that is why the ultimate answer is 42 - and stand by for the universe to get weirder - Douglas Adams style

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Only via links?

I seem to remember seeing, somewhere in all the hype, that they can only get your purchase list if you've visited the store via a link on their website? So if you go to Amazon by typing in the url, you're fine and anonymous; it's only if you use the same email address for amazon as for facebook, *and* do your shopping via clicking on affiliate links on facebook. Which makes it a bit less scary. Maybe I'm remembering wrong, though, because that factor doesn't seem to be getting much attention.

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Coat

@To the "I don't get it" posters

"You obviously haven't used Facebook at all, otherwise you'd realise your post is quite incorrect. Sadly you can't understand something if you haven't used it!"

Well you're right that I haven't used facebook/my space et al. A friend was going on about his myspace 'page' (a.k.a. web page) so I went and had a look at it. Sure enough in my web browser was a *web* page (and a messy unreadable one at that), not the social networking revolution as previously advertised. Maybe my expectation was set artificially too high, but that's about the sum total of my experience with myspace, etc. I don't need to understand something I'm not going to use.

"Think of Facebook as a sort of RSS Feed of what your friends are up to. I find it very hard to believe that of your friends/family that some of them don't have a Facebook account. Facebook is a good, spam and hassle free way to interact with them."

So is talking on the phone, emailing or hell even face to face when I go round to my parents to drink coffee and steal their biscuits.

I suppose some do have a facebook site, I really don't know or care. Call me a traditionalist/luddite if you will, it just seems overhyped/oversold, web 2.0 in a nutshell really.

Please note, I have nothing against users of these sites (sorry about the numpty remark ;o)

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Re: If you haven't tried it...

I've never been violently buggered by a mountain gorilla, but that doesn't mean that I'm incapable of assessing the process and deciding "No, thanks."

"Don't take your opinion from journos and elitists on the net." - Simon Goodwin

Your're an "elitist on the net" as evidenced by the fact that you think any opinion of Facebook is invalid unless it comes from a someone who has used it.

If only we all had the enlightenment clearly bestowed upon yourself, then we might be able to come up with proper opinions that agree with you.

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Why I don't get facebook

@Tim

"Think of Facebook as a sort of RSS Feed of what your friends are up to."

This is the first sensible description of Facebook that I can understand. However, the experience I get from the users of facebook I encounter is entirely different.

Every person I know that openly admits to using facebook is obsessed with the number "friends" that they have. At work this extends to them obsessively checking their page at least every hour during the day.

What makes it look even sadder to me is that they use it as some kind of IM replacement to talk to each other instead of walking 10 feet to another desk and chat.

The whole thing ends up feeling like an extension of the way many young people consider people they met 5 minutes ago to be the best of friends. Whatever happened to the distinction between acquaintance and friend.

I've no doubt that there are many facebook users that use it as simply another channel for communicating with genuine friends, the problem is that the loadest voice seems to come from apparently self-obsessed and rather shallow users, even though they may be the minority.

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Alien

Parents could love this

It's a good way to spy on your teen-aged kids. And when/if they "defriend" you, you *know* something happened. Yeah, ask me how I know that...

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Tim

@earthpig

Well, if that's the case, I fully understand why you don't get it. I don't either in that case!

I use it as a good "everyone in one place" tool to communicate with my close friends. I have had a number of people at work ask me to "friend" them, but I keep my work and private life as separate as I can.

I guess people's opinion of FB (and other social sites) is heavily reflected by talking to those who use them. Given that I seem to be rather in the minority in the way I use/interact with Facebook, I can now see why so many people have such a low opinion of it.

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Paris Hilton

The REAL privacy Issue...bitch

As any fule kno (who reads this esteemed organ, at any rate), you should never post anything on the internet that you wouldn't be happy to paste onto a giant billboard outside your house. This is the rule by which I encourage my custards, sorry, non-techie friends to live by. Especially when it comes to Stalkbook. I've found that the real privacy issue is not so much badly-thought-out 'monetization' schemes that appear to have been dropped quicker than Paris Hilton's knickers, but other users. Whenever I frequent bars where the 'youf' hang out these days, out come the cameras, and pictures are taken of their drunken antics, which invariably get posted to FB the next morning. Now, whilst I have only myself to blame if someone takes a picture of me (say) drunkenly dancing to that Village People classic "YMCA", the FB effect means that this picture will be instantly visible to anyone whom I have been dumb enough to 'add as a friend'. This includes work colleagues (not management, natch). I dunno about you lot, but I try to separate business and pleasure (with the obvious exception of the lovely Sarah in accounts, she's wearing her boots+THAT skirt today <drool>). Anyway, point is, whilst I may think about whom I add/block discreetly/untag photo of me pole dancing, other people do not. Social networking sites in general, and FB in particular, do have their uses. It is not for people with no life, quite the contrary, it allows people with a life to stay in touch without spending hours doing so. Note I do not include those saddos who spend all day on Facebook, telling us that their cat puked on the carpet again. To them I say: "Get a job!"

Rumours have been circulating that employers are now checking potential employee's FB profile before making a hiring choice. I sincerely hope that this is not true, as anyone who bases such decisions on what is essentially a leisure activity clearly needs to go on a staff selection course, or be relobotmised to turn him/her back into a useful HR drone.

Am remaining an anonymous coward, just in case anyone tries to look through the pictures of me making a pratt of myself online, or tell Sarah.

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Boffin

MySpace/Facebook

There seems to be a bit of confusion amongst the chattering classes about the differences between Facebook and MySpace so i thought as it's friday and i don't feel like doing any real work I'd try and clear it up for y'all.

MySpace... an account you set up on myspace can be freely viewed by anyone who has enough fingers to type in the address and do a search for you. if you are idiotic enough to put all of your personal information on there (and from my limited experience of this there are many, many people who are more than willing to give everything including the size of their virtual manhood) then everyone from George W to prospective employers can have a look at it. This is not a good idea!

Facebook... when you go to the facebook website and type in someone's name all you will see is a box with a thumbnail of their current profile picture, their name and the school they attended.

to actually obtain any personal information about someone you need to sign up, ask them to be your friend and await their reply. In this time they have the chance to have a look at YOUR profile to see if they know you (and want to let them get in contact with you).

Personally, i'm far too old and cynical to be bothered about letting the world know what my favourite bands are or which celebrities i think are fit so don't really have a need for myspace. However, i've found that Facebook is brilliant for contacting old friends who i've lost contact with or sending a quick message to a number of people about where we are meeting for beers on a friday.

In summary... Myspace = web2.0bollox, Facebook = virtual pub (but not in a second life kind of way)

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Black Helicopters

Web 2.0, pff

Sites like Facebook and similar that encourage you to sign up and then do not allow you to delete or cancel your account just really annoy me.

Web 2.0 's appeal is lacking. For all the hype the risks are considerable around personal data being taken, not to mention every mistake you make could be Youtubed and slapped on the web for all to see.

Call me paranoid and let me hide in the bunker with Helicopters flying around, but I don't really want a page on the Internet to determine the outcome of a job application or anything else I may well do.

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