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Facebook reins in “Beacon” ad system

30 ноября 2007

Facebook, the online social networking website, on Thursday moved to placate users concerned about the threats to privacy posed by its new “Beacon” advertising system.

The move comes a week after MoveOn.org, the non-profit public policy advocacy group, joined a growing chorus of critics of the new service, which alerts users’ networks of online “friends” about things they buy on other websites.Facebook reins in “Beacon” ad system

Friends of a Facebook user who buys a book on Amazon.com, for example, may see a message about the purchase when they log onto Facebook.

Facebook argues that Beacon offers multiple opportunities for users to decline to publish messages sent from partner websites. But some online shoppers complain that these warnings are not always given, or that they are easy to miss.

Facebook said on Thursday that it had made changes to the way users approve Beacon messages before they are published.

Facebook said the changes mean that, from now on, “no stories will be published without users proactively consenting.”

Previously, Beacon stories would publish automatically unless a user said “no” to a publication request within a certain amount of time. Now users will now be asked to explicitly authorise the publication of each Beacone message, according to Facebook.

Facebook stopped short of offering a way for users to opt out of the service altogether - a move that is likely to disappoint some critics, including MoveOn.org, which has called on Facebook to “add a way for users to permanently say no” to Beacon.

MoveOn.org could be reached for comment on Thursday night.

Beacon has proven to be the most controversial of serveral new money-making technologies launched by Facebook this month. The new advertising schemes are part of an effort to boost revenue growth by tapping into the deep social connections between Facebook users, who use the site to share messages, photos and other information with online friends.

Facebook faced similar unease more than a year ago when it launched a feature, known as Newsfeed, that alerts friends to everything a user does on the site.

The social networking site responded by giving users more power to limit the items that appear on the newsfeed, and the ability to restrict who can see it.

Since then, the feature has become one of the site’s most popular.

Facebook’s growing popularity has attracted the attention of a number of Silicon Valley stalwarts. Last month, Microsoft, the world’s biggest software company, paid $250m for a 1.6 per cent stake in the company, in a deal that valued Facebook at $15bn.

Источник: Financial Times

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