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November 10, 2007

Facebook - if you are going to invade my privacy, please do so quietly

Nicholas Carr on Rough Type makes the point that it's not so much the fact that there is a privacy issue with Facebook Beacon but that they have chosen to make it so obvious that there is a privacy issue!  Seems like a slightly odd argument to me but I can understand where he is coming from.  As the recent OCLC report tells us:

Less than a third of the total general public surveyed consider most information searching, browsing or buying activities as extremely or very private.

Perhaps we really don't care, as long as we're not made to care.  Facebook Beacon is no worse, I guess, than the kind of things Google has been doing for the last while - and most of us still seem happy to use Google umpteen times a day.

Facebook Beacon gives external services a way of writing to your Facebook profile.  On the face of it, your permission is always requested before this happens.  The worry is that when you say 'no' the data still flows into Facebook, it just isn't displayed for public consumption.

If you are concerned,  Nate Weiner on the Idea Shower has some practical suggestions for preventing the 44 Beacon partner sites (many of which are listed by Om Malik on GigaOM) - or any other external service for that matter - from sharing any data with Facebook.  That said, I strongly suspect most of us won't bother! :-(


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I can't help feeling that the disadvantages and risks of having a Facebook account (spamming, loss of privacy) are starting to far outweigh any advantages (of capacity for communication, convenience, entertainment).

There's always some trade-off, I suppose.

But I'm never in a very charitable mood on a Monday morning, and just now the temptation to delete my Fb page is quite strong.

Great post. I really believe that the true power of fan pages will not be in building more branded destinations, but in building conversation spaces for consumers to communicate with brands.

Here are my thoughts more fleshed out:




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