Zuckerberg, Quit Insulting Our Intelligence

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Mark Zuckerberg, the founder and CEO of Facebook has taken one more step in the Beacon war. As we’ve noted, Facebook is wrong to not fully make Beacon an opt-in program, partner companies are wrong for releasing customer data to Facebook and by the way I made a Firefox extension that will help consumers know when they are on a site that is using Beacon technology and will send data about their customers to Facebook, regardless of whether the consumer has a Facebook account or have the program turned off.

So, back to Zuckerberg. Mark posted an entry today on the Facebook blog apologizing for Beacon, admitting that the program was mismanaged from the start and that the response to the outcry were abysmal:

We’ve made a lot of mistakes building this feature, but we’ve made even more with how we’ve handled them. We simply did a bad job with this release, and I apologize for it. While I am disappointed with our mistakes, we appreciate all the feedback we have received from our users.

Zuckerberg continues on to outline how to turn off Beacon altogether – and that’s where this is still breaking down. First, Beacon is still “opt-out”. That is, users still have to proactively turn the “feature” off. I’m guessing that most Facebook users are not paying attention to this whole Beacon uprising, and thus probably have no idea that there is something that can be turned off and how it would be turned off. The majority of Facebook users, I’d venture, are purely using the site to keep up with their circle of people. No one is paying attention to these higher-level issues – something I admit I’m disappointed in as I think these issues affect all users.

The reality is that Beacon is damaged goods and I will be surprised if partners don’t continue to drop the technology. It’s a huge mistake to send data to Facebook and let Facebook determine if the user 1) exists or 2) has not opted-out.

Someone I talked to recently described Facebook and Beacon as, “[Facebook] is like inviting the devil into your home by accident and now [Beacon] is seen as angel of death.”

No, despite Facebook’s steps to “right the wrong”, they have not gone far enough. At the very least, they need to make it completely opt-in and let their marketing department “sell” opting-in to their users. In an ideal world, Beacon is completely abandoned – something that might very well happen if the backlash doesn’t stop soon.

Comments

  1. says

    You can go ahead and tell them it was me that made the statement, I’m sure Mark Zuckerberg is not knocking on my door to be an advisor to Facebook, although it would prove to be a smart move to get a Board of Advisors to share some wisdom. I have always quipped to Matt Mullenweg that at some point I expect he will throw a switch and will rule the world. I guess I had the right idea, but the wrong person.

  2. says

    I’m sure when employee activity as a consumer (as opposed to as an employee) begins to be posted to Facebook profiles and inadvertently marketing the competition, it might become a bigger issue.

    That said, Deloitte could run a massive internal campaign educating their employees on turning Beacon off which would highlight my biggest concern: that average users, without the safety net of a Deloitte that is running a PR blitz to protect themselves, could have their privacy violated and… think about this for a second… maybe in an extreme case, their identity stolen. It’s not a far cry to think that a company that has not thought this Beacon through thoroughly enough, hasn’t responded to this moment in the most completely transparent way, could potentially be an inadvertent facilitator of identity theft.

  3. says

    At least you can opt-out completely now, and not just on a per site basis. But yes it should be opt-in only.

  4. says

    Not to bang on too much about Deloitte, I find it fascinating that David Redhill, Chief Marketing Officer at Deloitte (Australia) and formerly Director, Global Brand Strategy, Deloitte, was on the public record early last year saying Deloitte would not have a corporate blog because of the risks, commenting “By unleashing a new medium which really is extremely powerful because it is worldwide audience and allowing people to use that in an unregulated manner is really a huge risk.” : transcript at http://tinyurl.com/2novar . So corporate blogs are risky but FB is ok? And what advice on social media are Deloitte consultants giving their clients?

  5. says

    Hey Aaron,
    I, for one, decided to just “opt-out” of Facebook entirely. It HAD potential, but they blew it in my opinion.

  6. says

    Too bad your data will still be sent to Facebook. Opting out just means Facebook won’t show it. No one really knows what they do with the data they collect though. ;)