Editor’s Note: While we appreciate Ann-Marie’s anger and her need for a spam-free social network, these are the opinions of Angry Ann-Marie only and not Quicken Loans….at least not everyone.
Someone had to do it. With the departure of “Angry Ed” to what I can only imagine are the blissfully sunny streets of LA, the DIFF had been left with a certain void. Well, no more. My rebellious ways – and the fact that my name starts with an “A” – has earned me the title of “Angry Ann-Marie” from here on out. Most of my teammates shan’t be surprised…
My latest beef? I recently made the move from the obnoxious, ad-filled, seizure-inducing pages of MySpace to what I thought was the social networking site at the end of the rainbow: Facebook. The white-space alone on Facebook was enough to make me take a deep, refreshing breath; I finally thought I found the place where I could keep in touch with friends without being stalked by advertisers. But now I wonder…
Facebook recently launched a marketing initiative called Beacon, which it originally positioned as a way to share interests with friends. Beacon was supposed to be the business world’s opportunity to make an innocent foray into online social networking, allowing me to do such things as share the latest video I rented – demonstrating my fascinating movie tastes – with my friends on Facebook directly from the video rental company’s Web site. I wasn’t sure that I wanted to bother my friends with such purchases, but I figured that as long as I was given a choice, fine by me.
Unfortunately, it’s now looking like “choice” is a flexible term with Facebook. The Consumerist and other blogs reveal today that “Facebook’s Beacon [is] Even Sneakier Than Originally Thought.” Even if you opt out of sending your Internet behavior to your Facebook friends, Facebook still collects the data and in some cases, can tie your actions on Beacon-participating sites back to your account in Facebook.
The situation was even worse just a week ago. Before Thursday when Facebook changed the rules, your boss and coworkers on Facebook were informed about that heinously inappropriate – albeit hilarious – t-shirt you purchased from a Beacon retailer. That Christmas present you bought for your boyfriend? The surprise may have been spoiled because he saw the purchase on his Facebook newsfeed. Fortunately, enough Facebook users got wind of this practice – not to mention activist organization MoveOn.org – prompting Facebook to change their private purchases policy on Thursday night from a confusing opt-out process to one that now requires your explicit approval to share your latest buys. The move was a big win, but not as far as some users would have liked; Beacon continues to collect information on your Web behavior, even if it’s not publishing it to your friends.
Despite the recent policy change, I feel like I’m being spied on. What business is it of Facebook to track my behavior on other Web sites? Why do they get to know that I booked a trip to Las Vegas on the weekend I was supposed to go to a friend’s engagement party? To me, this is surreptitious, slimy behavior that is a blatant disregard for my right to privacy. I hope enough public outcry will change this policy just like it did the private purchase policy, otherwise that “cancel account” link is the next feature I’ll be checking out.