Zuckerberg Apologizes: Facebook Changes Beacon To Respect Privacy

December 5, 2007

At this stage this was the only move Facebook could make, as negativity had hit the mainstream and definitely steamrolled over the past few weeks. On a Facebook blog post, Mark Zucker berg talks about the mistakes made with Beacon in striking a proper balance between advertisers and users that would be acceptable to both parties.

Anyhow, all that matters are the changes to Beacon, which are definitely a step in the right direction as far as my personal use of Facebook:

Last week we changed Beacon to be an opt-in system, and today we’re releasing a privacy control to turn off Beacon completely… If you select that you don’t want to share some Beacon actions or if you turn off Beacon, then Facebook won’t store those actions even when partners send them to Facebook.

I believe this is the method to opt out:

  1. login to Facebook.
  2. Click “privacy” in the upper right corner.
  3. Click “External Websites”.
  4. Check the box that says “Don’t allow any websites to send stories to my profile.”

The PR move of a public apology is the sort of thing many founders have to be willing and able to do today, to stem negative public impression. Even Steve Jobs has taken to using the Apple website as a place to post public apologies.

But back to Facebook. It seems this situation is the growing pains of a hugely popular website trying to monetize (read: actually make money) in order to justify their presently huge – and totally implied – valuation due to the Microsoft investment.

In addition, pleasing both advertisers and users simultaneously with a new product shouldn’t just a matter of spin and marketing. The product should actually be something users want to use.

Additional Reading: GigaOm, WebProNews, Fortune


  1. Dave says:

    So much for latest 100-year revolution ;-) (boy did he get ripped for that less-than-modest statement).

    Anyway, this definitely shows the double-edged nature of community-based businesses. The audience now has the tools and ability to bite back if they don’t like where a business is headed. And, more critically, their impact/reaction can be felt almost immediately (as opposed to say a boycott of consumer goods). Interesting stuff.

    One interesting note — this is the second time that Facebook has had to change course and issue a public apology. The first time, as you might recall, was when they launched the facebook news feed. Obviously it has turned into a huge, sticky feature for them but the initial lack of opt out and privacy controls (iirc) resulted in a similar backpedaling and public apology. You’d *think* that someone in management might have been wary of repeating the same mistake twice, but oh well.

    When you’ve got the momentum of a Facebook, you can afford a few missteps of this sort.

  2. ScottUA says:

    It does seem like Facebook’s actions were a little sneaky. Users should only receive advertisements if they CLEARLY understand what they’re getting.