Today on the Facebook Blog, Mark Zuckerberg apologizes for the mistakes Facebook made in rolling out Beacon, and announces that the company is "releasing a privacy control to turn off Beacon completely."
This is a clear victory for consumer backlash and protests. MoveOn.org spokesman Adam Green responds to today's development:
"Sites like Facebook are revolutionizing how we communicate with each other and organize around issues together in a 21st century democracy. The big question is: Will corporate advertisers get to write the rules of the Internet or will these new social networks protect our basic rights, like privacy? Facebook's policy change is a big step in the right direction, and we hope it begins an industry-wide trend that puts the basic rights of Internet users ahead of the wish lists of corporate advertisers."
The Center for Digital Democracy, which has filed an FTC complaint against Facebook, is still concerned that Facebook's reaction has not solved their potential privacy problem. Executive Director Jeff Chester reacts to Facebook's news:
"Today's announcement that Facebook users will be able to turn off Beacon, following last week's opt-in changes, is a step in the right direction. But Mr. Zuckerberg isn't truly candid with Facebook users. Beacon is just one aspect of a massive data collection and targeting system put in place by Facebook. It's not really about the company's desire 'to build a simple product?lightweight' that would, as he writes, 'let people share information across sites with their friends.' Mr. Zuckerberg's goal, as he explained on November 6, 2007, was to transform Facebook into 'a completely new way of advertising online.' Facebook has rewired its social network to better serve the data collection interests of marketers who, promised Mr. Zuckerberg, are now 'going to be a part of the conversation'.
"Mr. Zuckerberg can't simply now do a digital "mea culpa" and hope that Facebook's disapproving members, privacy advocates, and government regulators will disappear. Nor should Facebook's brand advertisers permit this statement to diminish the real privacy and security concerns embodied by Facebook's new targeted ad system. CDD will continue to press U.S. and EU regulators to address Facebook's significant privacy problem."
From my perspective, while I applaud this development, Facebook still has many more steps to take before they earn user trust. I for one am still not ready to sign up yet.