Facebook Apologizes, Allows Beacon to be Turned Off

OK, a few million other privacy advocates and I are a bit happier today. Although all is not well with Facebook and the way it so cavalierly treats the privacy of the millions of teens on its site. This from PC Magazine:

Facebook’s Beacon advertising program took another hit Wednesday when founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg apologized for the mistakes the social networking site had made with the program, and announced that users will now be able to completely shut off Beacon rather than just opt-in.

“Today we’re releasing a privacy control to turn off Beacon completely,” Zuckerberg wrote in a blog post. “If you select that you don’t want to share some Beacon actions or if you turn off Beacon, then Facebook won’t store those actions even when partners send them to Facebook.”

Zuckerberg acknowledged that Facebook “simply did a bad job with this release, and I apologize for it.”

Facebook’s announcement is “a step in the right direction, and we hope it begins an industry-wide trend that puts the basic rights of Internet users ahead of the wish lists of corporate advertisers” MoveOn’s Adam Green said in a statement.

“The big question is: Will corporate advertisers get to write the rules of the Internet or will these new social networks protect our basic rights, like privacy?” Green asked.

Jeff Chester, executive director for the Center for Digital Democracy (CDD), agreed that turning off Beacon was a good move, but accused Zuckerberg of being disingenuous.

“Beacon is just one aspect of a massive data collection and targeting system put in place by Facebook,” he said. “Facebook has rewired its social network to better serve the data collection interests of marketers who, promised Mr. Zuckerberg, are now ‘going to be a part of the conversation.'”

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