Facebook Brings Home the Beacon

    September 18, 2008
    Chris Crum

Facebook had its share of controversy late last year as a result of its Beacon advertising model. Basically what Beacon did was show you when your Facebook friends made a transaction on one of its partners’ websites. For example, if I bought a copy of "Mom and Dad Save the World" on Blu-Ray (if there is such a thing) on eBay, all of my Facebook Friends would know about it.

I would never do such a thing, but if I did, I wouldn’t be very happy about such embarrassing information being shared with everyone I know. It turned out many other people felt the same way and even started a petition against Beacon. Combine that with opt-in confusion issues, legal hassles, and partners backing out, and you have a failed plan. Or at least that was the general consensus.

Until now.

It seems that Beacon is back (or never really left as it were). A Facebook developer named Tom Kincaid signed up for fantasy football with CBSSports.com (a Beacon partner) recently and was greeted with a message that said, "CBSSports.com is sending this to your Facebook profile: Tom joined Free Fantasy Football – CBSSports.com on CBSSports.com Fantasy." Jesse Stay at Stay N Alive tried the same thing with the same results and confirmed that it was indeed Beacon at work when he viewed the page’s source to discover a little script:

<script src=”http://www.facebook.com/beacon/beacon.js.php?source=10228841580″></script>

According to Stay, Facebook is now at least giving users the option to share their info, which should alleviate most of the concerns that got Becaon in hot water in the first place. Nicholas Carlson at Valleywag also makes an interesting case in favor of Beacon, pointing out that the majority of Facebook’s users don’t even know or care what Beacon is.

Suddenly, Facebook’s motives behind deleting fake user profiles seem clearer. "Friends" might get annoyed when seemingly non-existent characters (or people named Yoda) purchase tickets to "Tyler Perry’s The Family That Preys" from Fandango.