Facebook Beacon Bows Out
Announced in November 2007, Facebook’s Beacon integrated advertising and profiles on the popular social network. It initially looked like a great way for Facebook to monetize—but users saw the implementation, where their activities on other sites were broadcast on FB without their consent, as highly invasive. Facebook reformed the program to be opt-in, and apologized. And now, Facebook is ending Beacon altogether.
Mashable reports (emphasis added):
This week Facebook said that it has settled a class-action lawsuit against the product, agreed to shut it down completely, and will establish a $9.5 million “settlement fund” to fund initiatives related to online privacy.
The suit, filed just over a year ago, alleged that Facebook had invaded its users’ privacy, collecting information about them (and others) from around the Internet without their consent. They also said the opt-out was too difficult, since you had to visit each partner site (of which there were 44) to opt out. (However, there was a privacy control to turn the feature off completely).
The settlement must still be approved by the court, in this case, the US District Court of Northern California.
As Mashable points out, however, Beacon’s legacy will live on. By creating partnerships with and data collection from third-party sites, it paved the way for Facebook Connect, which may actually be the biggest feature that added to the site’s global growth.