Facebook Might Revamp Shopping Stalking Feature

Responding to criticism from MoveOn.org and consumer advocates, Facebook might revamp “beacon,” its feature that stalks your purchases throughout the web and broadcasts them to your friends.

BusinessWeek says they have a source close to Facebook that says executives are discussing changes to the controversial marketing tool.

Executives of the three-year-old company were in deep talks over proposed changes late into the afternoon on Nov. 28, according to a person familiar with the matter. At issue is the Beacon program, which alerts members’ Facebook “friends” to purchases and other activities on third-party Web sites. A spokesperson for the company declined to discuss changes, reiterating an earlier statement: “Facebook is listening to feedback from its users and committed to evolving Beacon.”

Currently Facebook requires members to opt-out each time an affiliate wants to broadcast their purchases or activity, and some people (such as the following student at our alma mater, go Blue Demons) told BusinessWeek they either weren’t informed or completely missed the “opt-out.”

Kim Garvey, a 21-year-old junior at Chicago’s DePaul University, says she found out about Beacon after friends were alerted to a restaurant review she posted on Yelp. “I didn’t see the little thing that popped up, and I didn’t mean to tell everyone,” Garvey says.”For me, that was sort of uncomfortable.” She adds that she was surprised Facebook “is willing to invade people’s privacy.”

Well, that’s awkward.

Facebook May Revamp Beacon [BusinessWeek]
(Photo:Photo composite–Austin Cornelio)