Facebook Invades Privacy

Posted on Dec 03, 2007

via PC World:

It’s with no surprise that the backlash against Beacon continues. The controversial platform tracks Facebook user activity at partner sites and reports that activity back to Facebook. Facebook claims that the data is only used to broadcast your recent activity to your friends and that they have given users the ability to opt-out of participating in partner sites or individual transactions. The community and Internet at large is not pleased by their lack-luster effort.

This new finding has shown that even when a Facebook user is logged out of the Facebook site, their usage data is still transmitted from partner sites to Facebook. Not simply transactions either — granular data such as what pages you viewed, what action was just taken, and your Facebook user name. All of that data is transmitted to Facebook whether the user is logged into Facebook or not.

If all of this stuff was opt-in from the get-go, Facebook probably could’ve saved some face. However, the direction they’ve chosen shows that they hold little regard for their users and value their database far more. They’re profiting off of people’s identities without caring for those people. If their users were comfortable with that relationship that would be one thing, but the way they deployed Beacon shows that Facebook is a deceptive company. And nobody likes someone suspicious.

The scarier thing however, is the larger implications. Facebook is a pretty big and recognizable target. However, what about smaller, hard-to-find companies? How many of them are engaging in this sort of practice; building up databases of personally-identifiable click-stream data?

It’s too much to ask every user to monitor their network traffic all the time.

Maybe we need to get rid of cookies. Or something. This is just getting ridiculous. Making money off of spying on everyone is pretty insane.