Of the ad-related feature enhancements Facebook rolled out earlier this month, its Beacon project to share customer transaction data with Web site partners was obviously top contender for the “most likely to piss off users” award. And now the backlash has commenced with a new Facebook-based ad campaign and petition from MoveOn.org.
MoveOn has placed ads which drive traffic to a group it’s created with the name “facebook: stop invading my privacy!” On the group page are links to a demo of Beacon in action and an online petition entreating the company to make the feature opt-in rather than opt out. Indeed, the main point of contention for MoveOn is the unwieldy requirements for begging off the service. MoveOn does a decent job of articulating what’s actually a very complicated offering. This from the Facebook Group:
Matt in New York already knows what his girlfriend got him for Christmas…
Why? Because a new Facebook feature automatically shares books, movies, or gifts you buy online with everyone you know on Facebook. Without your consent, it pops up in your News Feed–a huge invasion of privacy. (See demo below.)
The missive continues, but that’s the gist of it. Approximately 6,200 Facebook users had joined the group at the time of this posting.
Facebook knew this was coming. At its first press conference announcing Beacon and its related ad platform, numerous reporters asked about the privacy implications of the feature. CEO Mark Zuckerberg responded only by saying it was always open to user feedback. MoveOn and many Facebook’s own users appear determined to test that pledge.