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Facebook Users Complain of New Ad-Based Tracking 173

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the when-aren't-they-complaining dept.
Tech.Luver noted a story about facebook users complaining over ads where their shopping habits are shared with their friends as if they are endorsing products. The neatest part is that you can opt out- if you click a box that disappears after 20 seconds... wait to long, and they assume you are totally fine with it.
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Facebook Users Complain of New Ad-Based Tracking

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  • by ickeicke (927264) on Sunday November 25, 2007 @11:24AM (#21471601)
    CmdrTaco has bought a Swedish-made penis-enlargement pump!
  • by blowdart (31458) on Sunday November 25, 2007 @11:26AM (#21471615) Homepage

    The neatest part is that you can opt out- if you click a box that disappears after 20 seconds... wait to long, and they assume you are totally fine with it.

    Not true; the FaceBook provides a secondary method of opting out, just like you can control lots of privacy tweaks already. There's a nice new option for "External Websites: You can edit your privacy settings for external websites sending stories to your profile." (this is not to say there aren't privacy problems with Facebook in general) [facebook.com]

    I guess actually looking before writing a news article would have been just too hard.

    • ( off-topic, but w(hy)tf does one need to log in to see that url ( http://www.facebook.com/privacy.php [facebook.com] ) ? Is facebook that much of an elitist "you're with us or you're against us / a loser"-clique that even such documents are behind a 'members only' login? geezus )

      Anyway... what you describe is third party websites sending stories to your profile. As I understand it, the whole hubbub is about advertisers using data -from- your profile and all of the data relating to it (such as purchases). For example:
    • by Coopjust (872796) on Sunday November 25, 2007 @11:44AM (#21471753)
      The main problem is that you have to opt out AFTER a site tries (or succeeds) at adding a story to your profile. If you don't respond to the popup (20 seconds OR a blocker), it assumes that you do indeed want to add the story to your profile. While you can disable it later, it might be a few hours or days before you notice if you're not a heavy Facebook user. And, you can only disable it on a site-by-site basis in this manner.

      Many nontechnical users that have hare angry. Many Slashdotters use NoScript or something to that effect.

      If you get the Blocksite plugin and block *.facebook.com/beacon/*, you can use Facebook normally and not have to worry about sites that implement it- the script that runs the beacon never gets to run, and there is no chance for the story to be sent.
      • by Garridan (597129) on Sunday November 25, 2007 @01:17PM (#21472393)
        Facebooks' policy is, and has always been, "It's better to ask forgiveness, than permission" with regards to policy. They claim to be for your privacy, but whenever they roll out a new feature that might be a privacy concern, they opt you in and don't make any sort of announcement so it can be months before you notice that you can close out such features. I used to be on facebook, and I recently closed my account because of such bullshit. A lot of my friends, my fiance, my mom, etc., acted rather put-out like I'm intentionally avoiding them or something. It's wierd how much pressure I've felt (though not from my fiance, she gets it) to re-join. News like this is just what I need to show people why I left.
        • by mcrbids (148650) on Monday November 26, 2007 @03:04AM (#21476199) Journal
          Facebooks' policy is, and has always been, "It's better to ask forgiveness, than permission" with regards to policy.

          Who cares about this? What's important is the long-term trend. Computers are networked. They are growing in power and complexity at an exponential rate. The algorithms for data processing and pattern-recognition software are being worked out at lightning speed.

          Computers are sharing information. And, once leaked, it's basically impossible to contain it. And once leaked, this information is available for an indeterminate period of time - forever?

          Why forever? Since storage capacity is growing exponentially, the need to purge old data is dropping exponentially, too. I have, on DVD, a hard disk image of my entire computer at around 1999. It's about 1 GB of data, and was a real hassle to get together back when I made it. But now, I've got a copy in a folder in my home directory on my Laptop, which has 160 GB HDD. It's not enough space for me to care - my disk usage is floating around 75% now, including my entire MP3 collection. (which dwarfs my old HDD)

          I'm probably going to keep that old disk image, along with its ancient copy of freecell.exe forever. Not because I care at all about freecell.exe, but because the cost of actually deleting that file is far greater than the cost of keeping it around.

          And so it is with leaked, marginally valuable information - the cost of leaving it "hanging around" is lower than the cost of identifying exactly what it is and deleting it. So this leaked information tends to "stick around" forever, and we have pattern recognition, AI, and search algorithms improving rapidly, which dramatically reduces the cost of identifying and reprocessing this marginal information. The end result is a human/machine meta-creature, a sort of swarm-like social animal like ants but with a common, shared intellect, lots like the GAIA from (you guessed it!) Asimov's Foundation series! [wikipedia.org]

          Asimov was a visionary in more ways than one...

          Guess I'm rambling. I'll stop now.
    • by irtza (893217) on Sunday November 25, 2007 @12:14PM (#21471929) Homepage

      Show your friends what you like and what you're up to outside of Facebook. When you take actions on the sites listed below, you can choose to have those actions sent to your profile. Please note that these settings only affect notifications on Facebook. You will still be notified on affiliate websites when they send stories to Facebook. You will be able to decline individual stories at that time. No sites have tried sending stories to your profile


      I hope you are not suggesting that I wait until after a site sends something to my profile to have means to stop it? This would be ok, if you alone are notified of the attempt before it can be successfully carried out. What if someone doesn't notice the little blip they put up on the external site? Can they still block others from seeing something even if its only once? I won't have to worry about this because my account is registered with an email I don't use for shopping, so I am asking because I can only find out from others experiences. That at least is the point most people here are getting at.

      Anything other than having the default be no consent, there seems to be something wrong with this model. I think this may mean people will start shopping with a non-facebook registered email address.

      My solution from a while ago was to create a new email address for every site I register with (it is a mail forwarder - i don't actually check dozens of email addresses). This gives me the ability to delete the address if it starts getting too much spam (selling of email addresses was one of the original reasons for me to do this). a sideeffect is that it hinders (though does not block) sharing of my info amongst businesses.
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by emmadw (768195)
        As I understand it, it doesn't compare email addresses, it uses a Facebook cookie. So, if you're logged into Facebook at the time, or you don't clear your cookies once you no longer need them, then it can tell.
        The site has to install a small bit of code which creates the cookie.
        I'm not entirely sure if Firefox etc. sees them as 3rd party cookies or not.

        The suggestion that others have made of blocking /facebook.com/beacon/* would seem a good way to go as far as I can tell. There are also programmes (e.g. Spy
        • by irtza (893217)
          got it. so the other site loads a script from facebook.com/beacon and that script then has access to the page content (what was purchased) and has the ability to add it to your profile. interesting. also room for a ton of abuse if the nature of the script can be figured out. A compromised machine can potentially be setup to post ads to their facebook account in this manner - or some unsuspecting guest that uses their account on that machine.
      • by GWBasic (900357)

        I hope you are not suggesting that I wait until after a site sends something to my profile to have means to stop it? This would be ok, if you alone are notified of the attempt before it can be successfully carried out. What if someone doesn't notice the little blip they put up on the external site? Can they still block others from seeing something even if its only once? I won't have to worry about this because my account is registered with an email I don't use for shopping, so I am asking because I can only find out from others experiences. That at least is the point most people here are getting at. Anything other than having the default be no consent, there seems to be something wrong with this model. I think this may mean people will start shopping with a non-facebook registered email address. My solution from a while ago was to create a new email address for every site I register with (it is a mail forwarder - i don't actually check dozens of email addresses). This gives me the ability to delete the address if it starts getting too much spam (selling of email addresses was one of the original reasons for me to do this). a sideeffect is that it hinders (though does not block) sharing of my info amongst businesses.

        It doesn't work. Last night I bought something from Zappos using a different email address, and it appeared on my Facebook profile automatically. It must have used a cookie or my existing session.

        I don't mind telling my friends that I bought a green sweatshirt, or a new pair of Heeleys... I don't want to worry about opting out when I purchase items that I'd rather keep secret.

    • by DustyShadow (691635) on Sunday November 25, 2007 @12:14PM (#21471931) Homepage
      I just checked my facebook privacy settings and it just gives a stupid message and has no options to opt out. I guess my privacy has to be violated first and only then am I able to tell them that I didn't like it.

      Show your friends what you like and what you're up to outside of Facebook. When you take actions on the sites listed below, you can choose to have those actions sent to your profile. Please note that these settings only affect notifications on Facebook. You will still be notified on affiliate websites when they send stories to Facebook. You will be able to decline individual stories at that time. No sites have tried sending stories to your profile
      • by Culture20 (968837)
        Yes, it does. My privacy happened to be violated by a website with interactive content, so I didn't notice the popup until it was going away, but in that brief second, I saw the word facebook, and was appalled that it was on my profile when I quickly logged in to see what had happened (nothing wrong with the site, in fact, I will endorse it to my friends, but I don't want to be forced to do so via Facebook & [other site] collusion).
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by $random_var (919061)
      FaceBook provides a secondary method of opting out, just like you can control lots of privacy tweaks already. There's a nice new option for "External Websites: You can edit your privacy settings for external websites sending stories to your profile."

      This is only partly true: the secondary opt-out only applies to stories created after the opt-out. Facebook will continue to publish stories that were created before opting out.

      I know this from personal experience after I tried the primary opt-out but was too s
    • Opting Out (Score:5, Informative)

      by megazork (953335) on Sunday November 25, 2007 @12:35PM (#21472087)
      If you look at it more closely [facebook.com] you can't opt out of the service generally. Every time a new site tries sending stuff to your news feed you have to go back to the Facebook privacy page and opt out of that particular site.

      Aside from AdBlock, you can do the following to effectively de-activate this service:
      1. Get Firefox
      2. Download and Install the BlockSite plugin for Firefox.
      3. After restarting Firefox select 'Add-ons' from the Tools menu.
      4. Click the 'Options' button on the BlockSite extension
      5. Click the 'Add' button
      6. Enter http://facebook.com/beacon/* [facebook.com] into the input box
      7. Click 'OK'
      8. Click 'OK' again and you are good to go.
      • Re:Opting Out (Score:5, Insightful)

        by vux984 (928602) on Sunday November 25, 2007 @02:08PM (#21472787)
        Aside from AdBlock, you can do the following to effectively de-activate this service:

        I think closing ones account and would be an infinitely preferable option. Yours only resolves this one issue. But what about the next one? And the one after that?

        They say don't throw the baby out with the bathwater, and that's fine, but I think the facebook baby went down the drain a while ago, and all that's left is a mass of humanity puttering around in its own dirty bathwater.
      • blocking this URL in Adblock Plus will work as well, and way more people already have it.
      • by burndive (855848)
        Here is what that page says for me:

        Privacy Settings for External Websites Back to Privacy Overview without saving changes. Show your friends what you like and what you're up to outside of Facebook. When you take actions on the sites listed below, you can choose to have those actions sent to your profile.

        Please note that these settings only affect notifications on Facebook. You will still be notified on affiliate websites when they send stories to Facebook. You will be able to decline individual stories a

    • by burndive (855848)
      Facebook still collects, stores, and does whatever they want with that information, however, and that is an unacceptable and gross violation of the user's privacy.
  • by Ckwop (707653) * <Simon.Johnson@gmail.com> on Sunday November 25, 2007 @11:26AM (#21471617) Homepage

    Personally, I think it's a fair trade. What do you expect when you put all your personal information in to a web-site that is free to use? They have to make money some how and the easiest way to do that is to sell your information on to other people or come to agreements with other companies to find ways to market to you.

    If you don't like that then don't use Facebook!

    If you want your own soap box under your own rules then get your own site. You can even run these out of your own house now provided you're with a civilised ISP.

    Simon

    • by techmuse (160085) on Sunday November 25, 2007 @12:11PM (#21471907)
      At universities, this has replaced e-mail as a primary form of communication. I ask people I meet for an e-mail address. They tell me to look them up on facebook. At a university, you would literally be cutting out much of your social life if you never used facebook, because most of the people at the school expect that you will communicate with them through it. It's like saying that if you don't like the subscriptions and lock-ins that the cell companies require in the US, that you just don't use a cell phone. The price of ignoring it is huge.
      • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

        by Frosty Piss (770223)

        At a university, you would literally be cutting out much of your social life if you never used facebook

        Your post illustrates one of the things wrong with many university students today (primarily in the United States), and that is an emphasis weighted in favor of socializing over serious study. This is reflected in the overall quality of US collage graduates (there are exceptions), which is low. Yet another factor that will end up sealing America's fate as a Second Tier Nation...

      • by FooAtWFU (699187)

        It's like saying that if you don't like the subscriptions and lock-ins that the cell companies require in the US, that you just don't use a cell phone. The price of ignoring it is huge.
        The difference here is that you can at least use a regular phone. and there are prepaid phones. And they all interoperate! Not so with Facebook! If you don't have an account on your university's network, you can't see more than names of people (and tiny pictures).
      • by 7-Vodka (195504) on Sunday November 25, 2007 @02:07PM (#21472775) Journal
        Orly?
        Cry more.

        What facebook is doing is contemptible. But if you can't take a stand against something like this that requires such a minor inconvenience... Good Lord! All it takes is for when you're exchanging information that you explain you're against facebook and you give a phone number or email address or domain name or aim name. Anything else they can use to get in touch with you. Most people will admire you for taking a stand, it shows strength. If someone really wants to speak to you in the future they will make the necessary arrangements. What's going to happen when someone really steps on your civil liberties or wrongs you in some way like, oh I don't know, the governement and you're required to make a real democratic sacrifice in order to fix things?
        Are you going to sit there as you do now and cry like a little baby about the inconvenience it would bring into your life?

        There was a time students would get out and protest against illegal or amoral wars, now they care more about their latte or facefuckmeintheassbook.

      • by bigdavesmith (928732) on Sunday November 25, 2007 @02:17PM (#21472833)

        They tell me to look them up on facebook.
        The only time I ever do this is when I don't actually want someone to get ahold of me. Facebook makes a nice intermediary, especially if they're just going to send me messages or write on my wall where I can easily ignore them.

        At my university, this doesn't fly for legitimate communications. Facebook is quickly gaining on myspace for the electronic embodiment of tackiness. A phone call is best, an instant message has the benefit of being...well...instant. Even email works. A message on Facebook is like a Fisher Price email.
        I don't buy the social networking argument either. Facebook is great if you want a huge number of 'friends' to show off, or really want to give someone a 'pet duck' or 'sixpack of beer'. It's not bad to get a glimpse at what someone might be like based on a profile, but the usefulness pretty much ends there. I've never had a physical relationship that involved sending a 'super poke' (at least not on facebook), or formed a business connection by sending someone a virtual 'small box with a hole in it'.
        Of course your mileage may differ, and I'm getting ready to graduate, so the freshman crowd may see things differently, but particularly with the direction that facebook is heading, anyone who uses it as a serious means of communication is just hindering themselves.
        • by xixax (44677)

          Facebook is quickly gaining on myspace for the electronic embodiment of tackiness.

          Urgh. So far the vomit-across-the-page attitude on MySpace had been a major consideration in me leaning towards Facebook if my hand was ever forced to accpting a defacto-standard personal netoworking site. I'm not surprised that Facebook are willing to race MySpace to the bottom in implementing appalingly band graphic design to attract hoards of 14 year olds.

          Someone should tell these Bozos that Kibo was only joking [kibo.com]. On the

        • At universities, this has replaced e-mail as a primary form of communication. I ask people I meet for an e-mail address. They tell me to look them up on facebook. At a university, you would literally be cutting out much of your social life if you never used facebook, because most of the people at the school expect that you will communicate with them through it.

          The only time I ever [tell people to look me up on facebook] is when I don't actually want someone to get ahold of me.

          Burn!!

          I agree. If someon

      • most of the people at the school expect that you will communicate with them through it.

        Presumably these aren't Communications majors.

        the subscriptions and lock-ins that the cell companies require in the US

        Contracts are not required. Many people are just too dumb, cheap, lazy, or ill-informed to get cell phone service without a contract.

        The price of ignoring it is huge.

        And when those college students graduate and can't communicate via e-mail or any other method required in the corporate world, they'll b

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by DustyShadow (691635)
      The problem really has nothing to do with what information is on your page. I have little information other than my name, age, school and these ads will still show up simply by purchasing something on an outside website. I can't opt out until AFTER it happens.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      And in fact that is exactly what I did. I quit, and provided a rather detailed and scathing response when asked why I was quitting.
      I was fine with being shown ads, bandwidth and server racks ain't free after all and they gotta be paid for somehow right? I started getting uneasy when they moved to targeted ads. The idea of software scanning my profile for keywords is unpleasant but I rationalized that perhaps the information wasn't being sent off-site or being stored in any permanent sense. But after
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by misleb (129952)

      Personally, I think it's a fair trade. What do you expect when you put all your personal information in to a web-site that is free to use? They have to make money some how and the easiest way to do that is to sell your information on to other people or come to agreements with other companies to find ways to market to you.

      If you don't like that then don't use Facebook!

      Bullshit. We all have the right to voice our opinions regardless of how much we pay for a service. Besides, I'm sure Facebook would rather h

      • Bullshit yourself. /Read/. Nowhere did he say you had no right to voice your opinion. He said he thought it was a fair trade, the provision of information for site access. You may differ: if so, complain and don't use. He didn't say "STFU and suck it up, big boy."
        • by misleb (129952)

          Bullshit yourself. /Read/. Nowhere did he say you had no right to voice your opinion. He said he thought it was a fair trade, the provision of information for site access.You may differ: if so, complain and don't use. He didn't say "STFU and suck it up, big boy."

          Why not complain and still use? I mean, if the service is important enough to you (and it is for many people).
          Even better, take the simple steps required to block the marketing by blacklisting the host/dir from which the js is loaded from... and com

      • by rmerry72 (934528)

        Bullshit. We all have the right to voice our opinions regardless of how much we pay for a service.

        He didn't say you didn't. All Americans have the right to bitch their opinion. But you can't expect privacy. You write your number up on the toilet wall and all expectations of privacy are foresaken. Nobody forced you to expose yourself to the world, so your "opinion" will be dully noted and flushed down said toilet.

        I mean what are you going to do about it? What can you do? They are Facebook and you are an

        • by misleb (129952)

          He didn't say you didn't. All Americans have the right to bitch their opinion. But you can't expect privacy You write your number up on the toilet wall and all expectations of privacy are foresaken. Nobody forced you to expose yourself to the world, so your "opinion" will be dully noted and flushed down said toilet.

          I can expect that my identity won't be used for marketing without my explicit approval. It MUST be opt-in. For example, just because my number is the phone book (public), doesn't mean the book p

          • by rmerry72 (934528)

            n the case of this facebook thing, your identity is being used and your opinions are being misrepresented by implying that you endorse something just because you bought it.

            Under a market economy the biggest endorsement you can give to a product is to buy it. That is a 100% endorsement. If you didn't like or endorse it you wouldn't buy it, right? Right! And Facebook will keep that to themselves and not use it too make lots of money, right? Wrong!

            Eek, too much James Burke this weekend. I'm starting to sou

      • by Blakey Rat (99501)
        Besides, I'm sure Facebook would rather hear complaints from users than have a mass exodus for no apparent reason.

        Or they can be like World of Warcraft where the level of bitching (on the forums at least) is legendary, and yet nobody quits anyway. Talk is cheap, that doesn't necessarily mean anybody's going to quit over it.
    • by fermion (181285)
      This is a good lesson for students to learn. It keeps them from growing up into whiny adults. Nothing in life is free. Everything has a cost. Every choice has a opportunity cost of all those things that cannot now be pursued. And someone has to bear those real and opportunity costs. For students, because we want people to be educated, society bears much of the cost. An elite student can have society bear the cost for his or her entire life, doing little more in return that thinking of occasionally in
    • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

      by rhizome (115711)
      They have to make money some how and the easiest way to do that is to sell your information on to other people or come to agreements with other companies to find ways to market to you.

      The bitch was asking for it. You see that miniskirt?
    • by syousef (465911)
      hey have to make money some how and the easiest way to do that is to sell your information on to other people

      So you're arguing that if someone gives you something for free, they should be allowed to do you harm in order to recover their costs or make a profit?

      Lets take that to the extreme shall we? You'd be okay with a company that hands out free icecreams, then as soon as you accept the icecream shanghais you and illegally forces you to work as a slave?

      The law doesn't suddenly stop protecting you if you're
      • by Blakey Rat (99501)
        So you're arguing that if someone gives you something for free, they should be allowed to do you harm in order to recover their costs or make a profit?

        Back up a step... how does better-targeted advertising harm you?
        • by syousef (465911)
          Back up a step... how does better-targeted advertising harm you?

          Lets say it becomes public knowledge that a school teacher favours a particular brand of sex toy. If it's widely enough publicised in the right kind of community say goodbye to that career. That's just one example. I could name plenty of others. That you don't seem to understand the importance of privacy, EVEN FOR THOSE THAT DO NOTHING WRONG, is scary.
          • by Blakey Rat (99501)
            No, I just like to wait until there's actually a problem before we "solve" it. Sure you can come up with hypothetical situations until the cows come home, but has this feature actually *harmed* anybody? And if you don't know, or if the answer's no, just say so. Because I suspect the real answer is no.

            The problem with Slashdot is that there are so many privacy zealots on this site that it's basically crying wolf all the time, like with RFID chips in products. It's hard to figure out what's ACTUALLY a threat,
            • by syousef (465911)
              Are you just trolling or are you really this dumb?

              Sure you can come up with hypothetical situations until the cows come home, but has this feature actually *harmed* anybody?

              So if an escaped lunatic is running around your neighborhood weilding a shot gun, and someone suggests calling the police you'd suggest that we give that man the benefit of the doubt until he actually harms someone?

              You're absolutely right about one thing. I could come up with hypothetical situations until the cows come home. None of them
    • by PhxBlue (562201)

      Personally, I think it's a fair trade. What do you expect when you put all your personal information in to a web-site that is free to use?

      To be able to maintain full control of my online likeness without having to check every week or two to see if Facebook or some other site has sold product endorsements using my name. If the circumstances were reversed -- that is, if I were saying "Facebook endorses this" without consulting with their legal and public relations folks first -- I'd probably have hell to pa

    • If you don't like that then don't use Facebook!

      Or don't shop at sites which are part of the Beacon program. It takes the interaction of two sites to cause this particular issue, and I'd personally find it easier to stop using fandango and epicurious than to drop Facebook.

      If you tell these partner sites why they're losing your business, that may be even more effective. With the launch of these services, the partner sites are Facebook's real customers, and they're the people who will put pressure on Fac

  • by stoicfaux (466273) on Sunday November 25, 2007 @11:27AM (#21471627)

    What happens when someone shops at an adult store and there are minors on their friends list...?

    • by LingNoi (1066278) on Sunday November 25, 2007 @11:31AM (#21471677)
      The same thing the happens when you watch a porno movie and you have "let my msn friends see what I am watching" enabled..

      Username is currently watching "AnalBeachNuns9.avi"
    • by Wonko the Sane (25252) * on Sunday November 25, 2007 @11:32AM (#21471681) Journal
      Then those minors will be PERMANENTLY DAMAGED FOR LIFE. Permitting minors to know of the existence of adult novelty items is a crime against humanity and should be punished by death.
      • by Zibblsnrt (125875)
        Then those minors will be PERMANENTLY DAMAGED FOR LIFE. Permitting minors to know of the existence of adult novelty items is a crime against humanity and should be punished by death.

        You say that (I assume) in jest, but there's going to be people who think along those lines. I do expect some Concerned Parent type to try to jail someone over something like that on Facebook sooner or later, especially considering the fact that Facebook's the new Myspace as far as the Think Of The Children crowd are concerned.
    • by v1 (525388)
      Since I'm fresh out of pts, "mod parent up please". This is bound to happen and you know there wil be some very pissed off parents that wonder why their 7 yr old is getting explicite spam that claims to be "recommended" by an adult friend of theirs.
  • Hardly a week goes by without Facebook users whining about something.

    If only they would harness that energy and complain about something really important. There's a lot of bad things happening in the World where their incessant and perpetual vociferousness could help invoke real social change.

    If they don't like Facebook, there are MANY Web-2.0-social-networkized alternatives. They should just go use them instead (and quietly). I feel really sorry for the guys who started Facebook sometimes, they have
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by felix9x (562120)
      Its a bit of a fallacy to look at it in those terms. Obviously you can use any one of many alternative. What you cannot duplicate that easily is the network part of the network.
    • by ScrewMaster (602015) on Sunday November 25, 2007 @12:32PM (#21472061)
      Personally, I've never used Facebook or any social-networking site, and I only know what little I read here on Slashdot. Even so, it does seem like hardly a week goes by without Facebook implementing some controversial, poorly thought out feature that pisses a lot of people off. As with any large-scale data aggregator (for that is, in effect, what Facebook has become) there's the potential to screw up and hurt people. There's a need to make money, I know, but sometimes Facebook's management seems to err on the wrong side of privacy.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by TheRaven64 (641858)
        Facebook or Skype, I'm getting bored with all of the 'users opt in to closed system, are surprised when it acts in the interests of those who run it rather than those who use it' stories. Fine, we've got the message.
        • Oh, I agree. Frankly, that's why I avoid using such systems as much as possible.

          Oh sure, I use Google, but I can't see myself ever posting anything consequential to a site like Facebook. Nevertheless, the Googles and Facebooks of the world are accumulating a truly astounding quantity of information about individual activities, and such knowledge is power. In that regard, they are no less dangerous than outfits like ChoicePoint or the credit bureaus. I have no choice but to end up in ChoicePoint's databas
        • by mph (7675)

          Facebook or Skype, I'm getting bored with all of the 'users opt in to closed system, are surprised when it acts in the interests of those who run it rather than those who use it' stories.
          If you don't like it, you could always stop reading Slashdot.
    • by HAKdragon (193605)
      When I started reading your comment, I half expected it to end with "Ron Paul for President!" I might just be spending too much time at digg.
  • by MrAndrews (456547) * <mcmNO@SPAM1889.ca> on Sunday November 25, 2007 @11:40AM (#21471737) Homepage
    Personally, I would be more upset about the Microstatus feature they're testing right now [pttbt.ca]... at least you CAN opt out of the ad one...
  • Those users say they never noticed a small box that appears on a corner of their Web browsers following transactions at Fandango, Overstock and other online retailers. The box alerts users that information is about to be shared with Facebook unless they click on "No Thanks." It disappears after about 20 seconds, after which consent is assumed.
    How do Fandango and Overstock know that the buyer has an account on Facebook? How do the two get linked up? Cookies?
    • by sitarah (955787) on Sunday November 25, 2007 @12:26PM (#21472005) Homepage
      "How do Fandango and Overstock know that the buyer has an account on Facebook? How do the two get linked up? Cookies?"

      Any site that is part of the Beacon affiliate network has a script that can read your Facebook cookies. The code is here, for any interested. http://www.facebook.com/beacon/beacon.js.php [facebook.com]

      You buy a product on Overstock. It gets some information on your Facebook account, then asks if you wish to 'publish this story' to your Facebook account. You can click:
      1) Learn more.
      2) This isn't you. No publish.
      3) No thanks. No publish.
      4) Close. Publish later.
      5) Ignore. Publish later.

      4 is the problem; you can ignore or close the box, and it will, instead of thinking that means a No Publish, ask you AGAIN when you log in to Facebook. If you ignore that one, too, or do anything but specifically click No (the X in this case), it *will* publish. It's unintuitive.

      Whether this is user-error or intentional design, users are also reporting that they have to opt-out of these affiliates site by site to stop publishing, because opting out of Beacon itself is insufficient or not possible. That's why people are irritated -- they never downloaded an app or asked for Beacon, didn't realize they had to specifically tell it 'no', and can't figure out how to turn it off.
    • by pavera (320634)
      I also want to know this. is this a "legal" xss attack where overstock et al. grab your facebook cookie and use that to transmit data to facebook?

      besides the privacy concerns it seems an absolutely stupid feature at this time of year. the number of ruined surprises will piss off at least as many people as the privacy violations i'll bet.
  • I guess I'm just too impulsive to ever put off my longing - right now, I'm feeling an indeferrable longing for a proofreader at Slashdot!
  • by Z00L00K (682162) on Sunday November 25, 2007 @12:21PM (#21471983) Homepage
    and it's actually illegal in some countries.
  • It was for precisely this reason that I recently quit Facebook [cydeweys.com]. I was a member of it mainly for contacting people in college, but I've since graduated, and have found myself spending less and less time using it. Meanwhile, its infringements on my privacy have grown more and more.

    The first whiff of displeasure I got when using Facebook was when people could tag me in photos without my permission and have them display on my profile. Understandably, there's lots of pictures one would probably not want the world to see, especially during a job search. I did eventually find the option to disable this "feature", but it was many months afterwards. Similarly, I expect there's a way to disable this privacy-infringing commercial thing, but the simple fact is, it's turned on by default for users, and you have to actively figure out how to disable it.

    That's not how this kind of stuff should work. It should be opt-in, not opt-out. Am I supposed to babysit my Facebook account into the indefinite future, disabling each new feature as it comes out, hopefully in time to prevent revealing information that I didn't want revealed? No thanks. I'll just quit Facebook. I did, and you should too. The more people who put up with this kind of crap, the more emboldened they will be to keep doing it.
    • by Tim C (15259)

      The first whiff of displeasure I got when using Facebook was when people could tag me in photos without my permission and have them display on my profile.

      I believe you now have to accept the tagging, although it's been a while - perhaps that's only for people tagging your photos, rather than tagging you in theirs.

      Similarly, I expect there's a way to disable this privacy-infringing commercial thing

      It looks like you have to do it on a site-by-site basis; the only thing I can see in the privacy settings pa

    • Here's why I never used Facebook in the first place: policy. I checked it out and started to sign up (not really knowing what it was) over a year ago and read:

      By posting User Content to any part of the Site, you automatically grant, and you represent and warrant that you have the right to grant, to the Company an irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive, transferable, fully paid, worldwide license (with the right to sublicense) to use, copy, publicly perform, publicly display, reformat, translate, excerpt (in

  • Is that you cannot actually delete all of the information in your profile with ease. You can deactivate your account, but all of your information is still on their servers and will load right back up if you log in again. To actually delete your profile you have to delete EVERY SINGLE THING from it. That's right, every post on your wall, every picture, you have to individually delete each of them. Fun times.
  • by broward (416376) <browardhorne@NospAm.gmail.com> on Sunday November 25, 2007 @01:08PM (#21472319) Homepage
    Currently, Facebook possesses an *unknown* tactical advantage in opposition to Google's *unknown* willingness to commit strategic resources and influence. But once Facebook's advantage is quantifiable, I suspect that Google will guesstimate and commit enough resources to win the battle. The odds are good that Facebook's growth rate of change will hit an inflection point in the next few months. These user complaints are a direct result of Facebook trying to push a tactical advantage for strategic gain.

    http://www.realmeme.com/roller/page/realmeme?entry=social_networking_meme [realmeme.com]

    Once Facebook hits an inflection point, its scope of influence is bounded, i.e. predictable.

    Facebook needs to change the game to increase their chances of winning.
    At this point, I give them a 50/50 chance.
    There's power in coalitions (see IBM's strategy with Eclipse, Sun's strategy with Java & JCP).

    If I owned Facebook, I'd redo the Facebook API by combining some of the ideas of OpenSocial, then build a coalition along the lines of the Java Community Process to manage it, abdicating 49% of the power and responsibility to other companies. If Facebook does that now, they can leverage their current development community and possibly force Google's hand. If they wait, the true extent of their power will eventually be revealed and challenged.
  • by jolyonr (560227) on Sunday November 25, 2007 @01:25PM (#21472465) Homepage
    Ok, Facebook do appear to have been doing something very stupid here, but let's get a list of all the vendors involved. Can we not have a list of all the vendors (Amazon and the like) who are happy to release your private sales information to a third party without your express permission?

    I think it would be very important to promote a list of online retailers who it's NOT safe to shop with. Ignore the fact that Facebook are showing the information where they shouldn't be, the retailers who are offering the information out in the first place are the ones to really be angry with.

    And if it isn't in cooperation, and there's some kind of stealth applet in the browser (as it sounds like there might be) listening in on third-party site traffic then that sounds like either a browser security hole (which should be patched) or some kind of malware that should be removed from systems.

    Unless, this is just some overblown incident of user stupidity where they are telling facebook more than they should be. I haven't seen the thing in action myself.

    Jolyon
    • by garbletext (669861) on Sunday November 25, 2007 @02:48PM (#21473065)
      This might be a partial list, as I've heard reports of participating sites not on this list. But Here ya go:

              * AllPosters.com
              * Blockbuster
              * Bluefly.com (NASDAQ: BFLY)
              * CBS Interactive (CBSSports.com & Dotspotter) (NYSE: CBS)
              * eBay (NASDAQ: EBAY)
              * ExpoTV
              * Fandango
              * Gamefly
              * IAC InterActiveCorp. (NASDAQ: IACI) sites (CollegeHumor, Busted Tees, iWon, Citysearch, Pronto.com, echomusic)
              * Expedia (NASDAQ: EXPE)'s Hotwire
              * Joost
              * Kiva
              * Kongregate
              * LiveJournal
              * Live Nation (NYSE: LYV)
              * Mercantila
              * National Basketball Association
              * NYTimes.com (NYSE: NYT)
              * Overstock.com (NASDAQ: OSTK)
              * (RED)
              * Redlight
              * SeamlessWeb
              * Sony Online Entertainment LLC (NYSE: SNE)
              * Sony Pictures (NYSE: SNE)
              * STA Travel
              * The Knot (NASDAQ: KNOT)
              * TripAdvisor
              * Travel Ticker
              * Travelocity
              * TypePad
              * viagogo
              * Vox
              * Yelp
              * WeddingChannel.com
              * Zappos.com

      from
      http://www.bloggingstocks.com/2007/11/22/facebooks-creepy-ads-put-your-mouth-where-your-money-is/ [bloggingstocks.com]
      which sources the info from
      http://sev.prnewswire.com/computer-electronics/20071106/AQTU20606112007-1.html [prnewswire.com]
  • ...that requires your REAL FUCKING NAME about privacy issues?

    Hilarious.

    • by vux984 (928602)
      ...that requires your REAL FUCKING NAME about privacy issues?

      What does one have to do with the other?

      The government has oodles of files that require my "REAL FUCKING NAME", and I expect them not to whore that information around with marketing sleaze. My Dentist requires my "REAL FUCKING NAME", and I expect him not to whore the information he has on me around. Hell, even my car insurance requires my "REAL FUCKING NAME", and I expect them to keep their information private too. Why suddenly, does having to giv
  • Faceook Architecture (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ewhac (5844) on Sunday November 25, 2007 @03:12PM (#21473229) Homepage Journal
    I just opened an account on Facebook recently -- mostly to see what the big deal was. It seemed harmless enough until I got a request to join a particular Facebook "app", in this case an app that compares tastes in movies.

    I use Firefox exclusively with NoScript installed. I clicked on the link, and... What the hell am I doing on this completely different site? And why is it trying to run JavaScript at me? Further, why is it trying to run a cross-site script from Facebook?

    It was at this point that I began to suspect that the pages Facebook is presenting me are not, in fact, always generated by Facebook's servers, but instead can be cobbled together from any number of sites and servers located anywhere, and that these sites all exchange data transparently with Facebook.

    I haven't read their developer's pages or their API specification, so I'm only guessing here. Does anyone know if this is in fact true?

    Because if it is -- to borrow one of Jon Stewart's terms -- then it's an absolute catastrofuck of a design, and everyone but everyone should run screaming from Facebook as fast as they can.

    Schwab

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by xaxa (988988)
      Don't add any applications! I haven't read the API either, but I think you're correct.

      I still get "X has invited you to Y Z" every other day. I wish I could turn them all off.
    • Did you not read the message that said something like "do you want this application to access information about your facebook account"? This message has kept me from trying ANY application (with the exception of one, which a (real) friend developed), and to be honest I don't think I'm missing anything...

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