Is Facebook Listening In? Yes, with Facebook Beacons

Ian Lurie Dec 2 2007

Marketing Conversations (no relation) has a synopsis of a Computer Associates article regarding Facebook’s Beacon. I think Facebook has gone too far this time.

is Facebook listening too hard?

Facebook Beacon is a 3-line code snippet that webmasters can add to their sites. The Beacon then transmits user behavior back to Facebook.
Here’s a quick example: I have a Facebook account. I visit an e-commerce site that uses the Beacon. When I make a purchase, my Facebook profile page updates to say “Ian just bought four widgets on www.thesite.com”.

Facebook is accumulating an enormous database of people’s online habits. That data is connected to each individual account, and, according to Computer Associates, Facebook isn’t allowing account holders to opt out.

This goes beyond Google’s search history. While Google logs my search history, I can turn it off, or clear the history (cynics will say Google’s still recording that data and linking it to my account – I can only shrug and ask for proof, please).

On the other hand, this data is marketing gold. If I know the last 4 sites you visited and what you did on those sites, I can send you exactly the right message, at exactly the right time. I can even follow up and ask you why you didn’t purchase my product.

It’s also creepy.

What do you think? Are you considering leaving Facebook because of this?

tags : conversation marketing

4 Comments

  1. Is it creepy? Yes, definitely. Am I considering leaving Facebook for it? No, probably not.
    I think we’re kidding ourselves to think that Facebook is the only major internet player using these kind of data collection practices.
    Still, they should allow users an opt-out – it’s just good form. And if I were them, I’d be a tad more concerned about turning away people like you and me. After all, people like us are the main reason they’re making so much headway against the evil MySpace.

  2. When I get sent a facebook invite to join a petition to stop Facebook Beacon, then I’ll join it, and if enough people do then facebook will stop using the beacon (in a trackable way) or make it possible to opt out, just like with the Newsfeed.

  3. Cathy

    Cathy

    Creepy? Invasive? Definitely. Stop me from using Facebook? No. Deter me from shopping with their partner links? Definitely.

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