Most of us have heard of Facebook or use it regularly. Facebook is that great social networking site designed to allow friends and family to keep in contact with each other. It allows each person to create a profile and to put interesting photos or information on the page. Friends can write little notes to each other and find out how things are going. Another important function of the website is that it helps people with like interests meet each other. This is particularly important in a world where people have so many different tastes and hobbies. Literally millions of people agree that Facebook is an important part of their social lives, and something they would certainly not want to do without. Most of us cannot imagine not being able to contact friends. Checking Facebook is also a regular part of most people’s daysâ€”it allows them access to something beyond just the daily grind. New friend requests are exciting.
All of these things are part of what makes Facebook a great service. However, there are some things about Facebook that might disturb you a little. Facebook has an advertising program, which makes sense given that it is a business. The program was created in 2007 and it is called Facebook Beacon. Beacon works by tracking the purchases of Facebook users on certain major websites. This purchasing information can then be published on Facebook by appearing on friend’s pages. The idea is to let your friends know what you are buying and where so that you will also want to buy. Perhaps you can see the problem with this as many other people have.
First, what you buy and where you buy it is really your business. No one should be able to publish that information, least of all in a public space such as Facebook. Second, Beacon records your purchase information regardless of whether or not you tell it to. The creators of Beacon have now instituted the option of disallowing Facebook Beacon from publishing your information to other Facebook users, but this does not mean that Beacon is not recording the information. This is not too different than someone going through your garbage to find out what you are buying and then giving the information to your friends. Seem a little weird or inappropriate, doesn’t it?
Naturally businesses would love to have this sort of information. However, if you are a business owner and thinking about trying to use Beacon to track and publish the purchases of Facebook users, you might want to think again. Consider that when Beacon first came out it made quite a stink. Many people demanded that it be discontinued. The response was to create the option for users to disallow permission to publish, which helps the situation. However, customers might still feel like their privacy is being intruded upon. If they feel this way they might be less likely to purchase things from you and certainly less likely to use Facebook.
Because Facebook is such a great part of many people’s lives, it is important to know about Facebook Beacon. While this does not mean that you should stop using Facebook, it is only fair that people are informed about what their Internet social network is doing with their private information. If you don’t like the fact that Facebook is trying to use this information, consider never allowing it to publish your information. If you are really disturbed by it, write to Facebook and let them know how you feel about the situation