Face About

I watched with some interest the fooflah about Facebook’s Beacon.

On the one hand, I think the application serves a useful purpose–it provides a dose of reality for those who have been extolling the virtues of the ‘social graph’ in all dewey eyed innocence. It’s hard to ignore that purchase of Depends showing up for all your friends to see. Hard for your friends to miss, too. Yes, it’s nice to actually see the snooping that’s happening without having to indulge in guesswork: am I, or am I not, a commodity. Now we know for sure: just stick us on the shelf between the sardines and the peanut butter.

On the other hand, how rude.

Now Facebook has come out with a new plan: the stores will still track you, still send your purchase information to Facebook, but you have to actively OK the first story for the site. This still means that the information is sent to Facebook. As proud as you are buying that new Nikon D300, how do you feel about information being sent to Facebook about the good deal on that…oh oh.

Users must click on “OK” in a new initial notification on their Facebook home page before the first Beacon story is published to their friends from each participating site. We recognize that users need to clearly understand Beacon before they first have a story published, and we will continue to refine this approach to give users choice.

(emph. mine)

Uh huh.

Of course, I expect those people who signed the petition and protested such an invasion of their privacy and trust to quit the service. Why else would people get so uptight but still continue? Unless, like the young lady quoted in the New York Times, they also feel they don’t have a right to privacy.


Am I quitting Facebook? Well, one doesn’t quit Facebook. One deactivates, leaves, never to return, and hopefully hunts down and eradicates every Facebook cookie stored on any and all machines, promising to never, ever, buy into the hype on Techmeme, ever again. It’s not quitting, per se, as much as throwing up barricades. After all, when I go shopping for … it’s none of your damn business.


Oh, look, the Manz R sayin de same thing. Well, that’s a relief. I wouldn’t want people to have to rely on the opinion of a girl.

Facebook | Deactivate Account

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7 Responses to Face About

  1. The strategy is obvious and simple, no?

    First they spring something “can they really mean this?!” outrageous on the userbase, then they let the protests ring for a while, until finally they “recant.” Of course recanting means falling back to a position that would have outraged users nearly as much as the initial proposition – but under the circumstances, seems like a compromise that users feel they can grudgingly accept.

    Then they wait until the frogs have gotten thoroughly used to the warmer water before springing the next aspect of enforced exhibitionism on them.

    Hey, it worked for politicians in grinding down civil liberties and those pesky checks and balances.

  2. Shelley says:

    Aristotle, what you’re saying was on my mind, this morning. We so willingly give up any semblance of privacy, don’t we? Why not? One only has to look at Techmeme on weekends to realize we gave up on all semblance of dignity, so why not privacy, too?

    I’ve not been over enthusiastic about MoveOn, but my respect for the organization really tanked with this event.

  3. fp says:

    Did your respect for MoveOn tank because of their simple minded victory dance, or because they saw fit to enter the fray at all, or for some other reason? I’m just curious.

  4. Shelley says:

    All of the above, Frank. Of all the things facing the American people in this next year, Facebook’s behavior ranks down there with Coke changing its recipe.

    This country is in serious trouble: unemployment, growing recession, health care is in shambles, corporate malfeasance run rampant, never ending war in the Middle East, loss of civil rights, a mad man out of control…and it goes after Facebook?

  5. fp says:

    I agree.

  6. I’ll stick up for MoveOn. Sometimes activism is not simple, and doing a trivial but attention-grabbing item can build recognition that’s useful in heavy lifting. There are complex trade-offs involved. And a lot of pitfalls, true.

  7. Well I finally joined facebook to see what the hoopla is about. It’s been interesting. I even set up a page for my company because of all of the ‘fake pages’ being set up. I can’t say that it is very intuitive to figure out how to import everything.

    I don’t plan to by anything FROM my facebook account.

    Totally agree that the things facebook is doing pales in comparison to what the government is doing/not doing at home and around the world. It’s downright crazy and I can’t wait for a ‘regime’ change.