As reported on Boing Boing last week, MoveOn.org started a Facebook group and petition protesting Facebook’s new feature that makes private purchases on other websites public on Facebook. (Group and petition linked to at www.MoveOn.org) Big news today, reported at CNET: Leaked screenshots of Facebook’s original Beacon feature for corporate advertisers — made public at TechCrunch.com earlier this month — reveal that Facebook originally planned to give its users the ability to permanently opt out of having their private purchases made public on Facebook. Facebook evidently removed that option just before launching the new privacy-invading feature. Facebook users who are aware that their private purchases on other websites are being made public on Facebook must now opt out site by site, week by week, month by month. There is no permanent opt-out option — let alone an opt-in policy.
“Facebook should explain why they chose at the last minute to put the wish lists of corporate advertisers ahead of the privacy interests of their users,” said Adam Green, a spokesperson for MoveOn.org Civic Action. “Facebook has the potential to revolutionize how we communicate with each other and organize around issues together in a 21st century democracy. But to succeed, they need the trust of their users. The fact that Facebook pro-actively chose to make it harder for their users to keep private information from being made public will rub a lot of Facebook users the wrong way. The ultimate act of good faith would be to switch to an opt-in policy.”