so no surprise, my Beacon post yesterday struck a nerve with a lot of people.
many strong reactions, some in agreement... lots of others not. in particular, a few folks i respect quite a bit (Nelson Minar, Fred Wilson, Om Malik) took positions quite contrary to mine. altho i still feel strongly that Beacon is a pretty innovative concept & has a lot of interesting potential, i'm going to take a step back on this for a bit & re-think my perspective.
a few quick items:
1) perhaps i'm overestimating the level of comfort / awareness most Facebook users have with sharing information on an opt-out basis. i'm going to talk to more people about this & see what they think.
2) Om's "mea culpa not enough" and Dare Obasanjo's "beacon is unfixable" are both worth reading. i'm not sure if Dare's technical / legal assessment is correct, but if so then Om's right this may still not be over.
3) Nelson took me out to the "do no evil" shed, pulled down my "opt-out isn't a sin" pants, and gave me a good old-fashioned "higher moral ground" ass-whipping with this comment:
But I couldn't disagree with you more when you say "so if you're Facebook the real question is: do you want 90% of your users to use Beacon, or 90% of your users to NOT use Beacon?".
The real question should be do 90% of your users want to use Beacon?
touche, nelson. that one really made me pause & reconsider.
lastly, i was speaking up in Seattle at the Web Community Forum conference on Facebook yesterday, and while moderating the Facebook Curmudgeons panel Jeremy Pepper raised a very good point... outside of BeaconGate entirely, Facebook should be doing more about online privacy education.
i really couldn't agree more with that last one; i wrote a tongue-in-cheek post last summer on facebook privacy settings, but more is needed there... especially in light of recent events. companies like Facebook and MySpace and LinkedIn (and new players like Mint & Spock, companies for which i'm an advisor or investor) all probably need to take a very pro-active stance on education around online privacy & help make sure they don't get screwed.
as with eBay & PayPal on identity theft / phishing, whether or not the company in question is creating a problem or is simply a big target for black hats, they have a responsibility to help educate their customers about these issues.
so in summary, while i still feel like Facebook is doing a lot of interesting stuff & innovating at a very fast pace, perhaps there should have been more introspection in how Beacon was rolled out. at the very least, there should definitely have been a universal vendor-wide opt-out at the very beginning, for those who don't want to participate. with the recent opt-in changes yesterday, hopefully they've moved closer to a solution that works better for users -- without limiting the usefulness.
in any case, this Fanboy is going to shut his trap for a few days & just think about it a little more.