MoveOn Slams Facebook’s Opt-Out Ad System

November 22nd, 2007 - 3:14 am ICT by admin  

Matthew Helfgott, a 20-year-old college student from Long Island, knows what his girlfriend is getting him for Hanukkah. Her purchase of a pair of men’s gloves popped up on her Facebook page, via the social-networking giant’s controversial new advertising feature.

The Beacon advertising feature displays a feed of items bought on Facebook partner sites. Whenever a Facebook users buys a product, signs up for a service, or adds an item to a wishlist on a participating site, Facebook displays a “story” about the action on the user’s profile and in his or her newsfeed, another controversial Facebook feature that displays photos, posts, and other bits of information on friends’ profiles.

When performing a Beacon action, users get a message allowing them to opt out of each story but not the service as a whole. Retailers can participate in the program simply by posting a few lines of code on a site.

MoveOn Balks at Beacon

The viral marketing scheme has upset enough users that the liberal advocacy group MoveOn has launched a campaign for changes in the program. And naturally it’s using the power of Facebook to get the word out.

MoveOn has started a Facebook group for its petition to make Beacon into an opt-in system instead of an opt-out feature. “Facebook must respect my privacy. They should not tell my friends what I buy on other sites — or let companies use my name to endorse their products — without my explicit permission,” the petition states.

MoveOn says the current opt-out feature is “easily missed,” and that “even if you do opt out for purchases on one site, it doesn’t apply to purchases on another site — you have to keep opting out over and over again.”

The solution, the group says, is simple. Beacon, like most other Facebook applications, should be something users…

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