Facebook is a great social networking tool that you can use to keep in contact with literally thousands of people. Each user creates a profile or personal page that allows them to publish information about themselves. Friends can join this page and write notes to each other. This is a great way to keep in touch with people that you would normally never see. Perhaps an old friend that you have not seen for ages could be contacted again. There are many great uses for Facebook. Many people have wondered if Facebook might not be a great way to advertise their business. Facebook has so many members and it is through friends that so many people find out about certain trends or what they should buy. Because Facebook is such a particularly great opportunity for businesses, there is a system that helps businesses use Facebook to sell their products. This system is called Facebook Beacon, and it is an interesting program. Facebook Beacon works by keeping a record of the purchases that Facebook members make on certain websites. Corporations sign up to have Beacon keep this record and then publish it on Facebook. When the information is published on Facebook it allows your friends to see what you have recently bought. This can be a great way to naturally share information about what people are buying. Most people want to know what their friends are buying and this could be a great way to spread the news, right?
Maybe not. The interesting issue is that many people feel that Facebook Beacon is an invasion of their personal privacy. If someone went through your garbage and tried to find out what you are buying you probably would not like it. The things that we buy and the places that we buy them are personal information that should not be shared unless we want it to be shared. There are plenty of people who want to publish this information because it is a part of their social life. They might also let people know where they can find interesting stuff online. There might be good reasons for someone wanting to use Facebook Beacon, but there are probably plenty of reasons also to not want to use it.
In response to many of the problems with Facebook Beacon, Facebook created an option that allows you to disallow the company from publishing your purchase information on Facebook. Every time you buy something on a site that subscribes to Facebook Beacon, Facebook will ask you if you will allow this information to be published. There is also now an option on Facebook that allows you to permanently disallow the publishing of your information. There is supposedly also a lawsuit that was recently submitted against Beacon, claiming that information was released without user consent.
As you can see, there are some serious concerns with Facebook Beacon. If you are a business that wants to use Facebook Beacon, realize that the legal situation could be problematic. You should also realize that your customers might not like it if they find out that your website is publishing their information. You might also consider it somewhat unethical to watch their purchases in this way. Perhaps you could find out by asking some customers what they think of Facebook Beacon. The other thing that Beacon could do is turn people away from Facebook, which would clearly be too bad. Facebook is such a great social networking site that it would be too bad for it to lose popularity or users. If you don’t like the idea of Beacon don’t allow it to publish your information.