MoveOn Launches Campaign Against Facebook
Facebook is busy ruining Christmas, and that’s the least of the worries. Violations of user privacy are higher on the worry list, and MoveOn.org has launched an online petition and ad campaign against Facebook’s brand new "Beacon" program.
Recently launched, Facebook Beacon is a marketing service that allows marketers to publish "stories" via Facebook News Feeds. If a user is logged in to Facebook while making a purchase, their purchase "story" will be published.
From the webpage’s description:
Facebook Beacon actions include purchasing a product, signing up for a service, adding an item to a wish list, and more. When a user performs the action, they will be alerted that your website is sending a story to their profile…
From the other side of the marketing tunnel, that means if you’re a friend of Sally’s, or in Sally’s network, you’ll be alerted when Sally buys movie tickets or, as in some cases, Christmas gifts.
Two early responses from Facebook members, courtesy of MoveOn.org:
"Oh my gosh, my cousins entire christmas shopping list this week was displayed on the feed. thats so messed up. This has gotta stop!" — Tasha Valdez from Michigan
"I saw my gf bought an item i had been saying i wanted… so now part of my christmas gift has been ruined. Facebook is ruining christmas!" — Matthew Helfgott from New York
Though Facebook has qualified the Beacon program as one that grants Facebookers the ability to "opt out" of having their purchases reported, MoveOn says users have to opt out of each site’s promotional reports.
One member complained that when he bought a movie ticket on Fandango, that information was subsequently published via the News Feed, an occurrence he says happened without permission and was a violation of his privacy.
It’s the privacy concerns – more so than the early peek at Christmas presents – that MoveOn is fretting over. In response, the organization has set up a Facebook group as the one home of an online petition, and is launching an ad campaign with the slogan, "Stop Invading My Privacy. "
The ad asks the harrowing question: "Have you noticed that what you do on other sites is now in your News Feed?"
The petition also calls for a stop to the program: "Facebook must respect my privacy. They should not tell my friends what I buy on other sites—or let companies use my name to endorse their products—without my explicit permission."
Facebook member Allie Scheerer comments on the petition group page: "This is incredibly upsetting to hear. I feel like I have big brother watching over my shoulder. I never thought I’d have a private company doing this; before I had always worried about government. This is not okay."
Facebook has raised privacy concerns on many fronts recently as the company expands its marketing efforts in an attempt to live up to some rather steep valuations. Most recently, officials from within the British government have complained Facebook knows too much about its users.
Facebook could not be reached for comment in time for publication.