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Facebook Blinks on Beacon




It’s been so long since I’ve been able to write about Facebook every day. I’m gonna relish this while I can. BusinessWeek reports today that Facebook may be tweaking the ill-received Project Beacon. These changes could come as soon as November 29—aka today.

BusinessWeek points out, accurately IMHO, that as Facebook tweaks the system to assuage its disgruntled users, it runs the risk of upsetting its advertisers and partners:

Any move that weakens Beacon’s appeal to advertisers leaves Facebook under pressure to find other ways to lure marketers and justify the lofty $15 billion valuation bestowed by Microsoft (MSFT) in October, when it purchased a 1.6% stake for $240 million (BusinessWeek.com, 10/25/07). Users of social networks are typically less responsive to standard ad formats, such as the posterlike banner ads commonly seen on the Web, than to newer, more interactive or personalized advertisements. Some marketers say that when they place banner ads on Facebook, the so-called click-through rate, a measure of user responsiveness, is one-fifth the rate for the larger Web.

But many Facebook users insist that they, not marketers, should set the terms of how, and how much of, their information is shared for advertising purposes. Some threatened to move to other social networks or start their own blogs if Facebook takes that decision out of their hands.

Oh, no, not their own blogs! Oh, heaven help us if 50,000 i-hate-facebook-dont-you.blogspot.coms show up. (Just don’t tell your friends about your anti-Facebook blog on . . . Facebook.)

BusinessWeek reports that a tweak just two days ago has done little to pacify its users. Facebook says that “Facebook is listening to feedback from its users and committed to evolving Beacon.”

Any changes probably won’t forestall the pending FTC complaint since the complainers plaintiffs seem to think that agreeing to show individual brands’ Social Ads on your pages somehow isn’t “giving consent.”