Facebook set to kill "Beacon", and none too soon

Facebook is set to kill a program that never should have seen the light of day.

The Register is reporting that Facebook is on the verge of killing its ill-fated and ill-conceived Beacon product, the privacy thief that reports purchases made outside Facebook to users within the Facebook system.

Even creepier than that, however, is how Beacon extends personal purchasing decisions to a wide range of third-party marketers, as MSNBC reports:

But more cryptically than your friends finding out your gift purchases, Facebook is free to share your very personal and potentially lucrative information with so-called trusted third parties that use it to personalize ads for even more crap they now know you're pretty likely to buy. What's more, while more attentive Facebook members can opt out of having their info shared with friends, there's no way to keep the social networking site from sharing your business with outside companies.

There are much, much better and cleaner ways for Facebook to monetize its popularity. This attempt deserves to die.

Facebook could monetize its user base by creating true trusted networks and allowing sales between trusted parties . Slapping a price tag on me and having me parade around in it doesn't do this, and frankly, wouldn't induce any purchase on any of my "friends" parts.

Facebook needs to tailor its system to leverage the power of trusted networks. Beacon is an attempt to skirt trust and to invade it. Back to the drawing board.

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About the author

    Matt Asay is chief operating officer at Canonical, the company behind the Ubuntu Linux operating system. Prior to Canonical, Matt was general manager of the Americas division and vice president of business development at Alfresco, an open-source applications company. Matt brings a decade of in-the-trenches open-source business and legal experience to The Open Road, with an emphasis on emerging open-source business strategies and opportunities. He is a member of the CNET Blog Network and is not an employee of CNET. You can follow Matt on Twitter @mjasay.

     

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