As part of their new advertising campaign Facebook has created a beacon feature. This means that, through their new beacon feature, Facebook has the ability to catalog your web surfing habits and provide that information to advertisers looking to buy space on Facebook in order to help them better hit their target markets.
When you visit a website, the site notifies Facebook of your visit and asks if you want to make your visit to their site made public with a post on your wall.
This is an incredibly powerful tool for online advertising and a smart move on Facebook’s part, too, as it will make advertising with them more beneficial. However, it may infringe on your privacy. Unfortunately for its users, Facebook’s privacy settings for this feature give you three options relative to the beacon feature, none of which offer you the option of them not collecting any information in the first place. The available options speak to whether or not you want the information it collects to be made public. So, even if you click “never”, it will still collect information on the sites you visit.
While the beacon feature is great for Facebook, it offers no real value to those who want to use Facebook. For most, it will prove to be a feature that however, subtly, invades your privacy. Unfortunately, when you sign up for Facebook, you sign up to be a part of the beacon program. Unless you take the steps to disable the beacon feature, when you sign up for Facebook you allow it.
Blocking or disabling this feature is going to be different for every web browser so the best thing is simply to block the web page http://*facebook.com/beacon/*.
To block or disable the beacon feature in Firefox, follow these steps:
1. Download and Install the Block Site plug-in for Firefox, found at https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/3145.
2. Restart Firefox and select ‘Add-ons’ from the Tools menu.
3. Click the ‘Options’ button on the Block Site extension.
4. Click the ‘Add’ button.
5. Enter http://*facebook.com/beacon/* into the input box.
6. Click ‘OK’
7. Click ‘OK’ once more.