We blogged earlier
about Facebook's annoying Beacon. Facebook's Beacon was instantly broadcasting information about Facebook
users' online purchases without first getting the users' permission to do so. Facebook ruined some people's holiday gift surprises in the process. In response to numerous complaints the social network giant has now modified the way
the Beacon news stream functions. Beacon "news items" will now sit waiting on Facebook users' profiles until they are approved or denied. This at least provides a way for Facebook users to stop information about online purchases and other web activities from being instantly broadcasted to all of their Facebook friends.
Unfortunately, it doesn't really solve the larger issue with Beacon which is that Beacon is aggregating its users online shopping activity. Is there any benefit to consumers in having Facebook compile all this data? The only benefit appears to be to Facebook which will be able to build a constantly improving model of each Facebook user's shopping behavior. Facebook seems to think they deserve to gather this information about their users simply because they provide them with a free online social networking profile. Facebook is going to really struggle as a company going forward if the only method they have for making money is to violate more and more
of their users' privacy while providing no additional benefit to the users. Facebook is refusing to provide a way to completely opt-out of Beacon so the only way users can get away from Facebook's invasive new service is to delete their account