I am usually a defender of Facebook. But this time I think they have overstepped the line and have introduced a ‘feature’ that makes me personally uncomfortable. From The Facebook Blog:
Just as Facebook shares your on-site interactions with your friends through News Feed, we now give you an option to let News Feed share your off-site actions with your friends as well.
News Feed created a huge privacy concern when it was introduced last year. But I didn’t buy the complaints then. News Feed amounted to Facebook displaying things you did on Facebook. If you don’t want your Facebook friends to know something, perhaps you shouldn’t do the action on Facebook. Just a suggestion.
However, Project Beacon is on a completely new level. Now Facebook friends may know about things that I do on sites that aren’t Facebook. There is no way of knowing whether or not a website is going to report to Facebook what you are doing. As this blog post points out:
It’s a little bit creepy to know that if I visit the Internet Porn Emporium, this store might attempt to tell Facebook that I’m a patron.
And although you can select for the information not to appear on your News Feed, Facebook will apparently still have the data.
It just feels a little bit like it’s too much of my private information getting into the hands of too many people without me necessarily knowing. There is a brilliant comment at Mashable which makes another good point about this:
Letting my friends know that I ordered x, y, and z from Amazon doesn’t sound very appealing. Could also totally spoil the surprise of a birthday gift or something.
So I will be blocking Facebook Beacon.