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Wednesday, December 05, 2007


Joshua Porter

Thanks for clarifying, Dave.

@joshua: your statement "no matter how evil the intention is" presumes a perspective that seems unnecessarily negative. FB is a business out to make money, but that's a far cry from being evil by default.

re: 'as long as the users don't revolt' is also the assumption of a just-shy of very negative scenario, when i don't really think it's the case.

i used to work for PayPal, and it was very common for a large # of customers to voice complaints about some policy or feature, but that # (while perhaps measured in tens, even hundreds of thousands) might still be a rather small % of overall customer base.

so to parse what i'm saying a little more: just because there's a seemingly large & vocal group with an issue doesn't always mean that issue represents the majority, or even perhaps a notable minority opinion.

in this particular case, i think plenty of folks (and specifically nelson above) have raised a concern that previous opt-out settings for Beacon were very negative for users, but i'm still not quite convinced that's a majority opinion. however, it's possible that not enough folks were aware of what was going on to be concerned.

to push the envelope even further: if you think about how the News Feed works, some people might have the same concerns about sharing Relationship Status updates or other info even more than they would selected purchase transactions. but after a year, there doesn't appear to be any user revolts about that information being displayed.

in summary, i think there probably needed to be more thought about how Beacon was rolled out & how people might have likely reacted, but i don't believe it's necessarily the case that a) opt-out is uniformly evil, or b) sharing Beacon actions on Facebook is a dramatic invasion of privacy (or at least not that much moreso than other info already being shared on Facebook).

that said, i am rethinking my perspective on the entire issue & planning to chat with more people on their reactions.

Joshua Porter

Hey Dave...trying to parse your stance on feels like you're saying that as long as users don't revolt, then its OK to proceed, no matter how evil the intention is. (we don't know what the intention is, other than to share information with 3rd parties and make money)

While this is *only* Facebook, we do need to draw the line somewhere, no? Maybe it's not here, but having this cavalier attitude about things like government would get us all in a heap of trouble, fast.

And my feeling is that the nature of the design makes it apparent to people *much* slower than the news feed, so that many, many people are simply unaware that it even exists yet. Ignorance may be bliss, and it may not.


well facebook is very interesting no doubt....but when it comes to privacy have heard too many issues about it....cause of which its very hard to trust it. But if the personal details are not mentioned then why would there be a problem of privacy & all that stuff. Well facebook can be used only for being in touch with your friends..

dave mcclure

>>The real question should be do 90% of your users want to use Beacon?

ok nelson, that's a good point & a better question than the one i stated.

i don't know that i agree with you that Beacon itself was boneheaded, but it certainly could have been handled better. and they should have offered a universal opt-out from the very beginning.

in any case, i appreciate your comment... you & a few other folks i respect are making me re-think my perspective on this.


Hey Dave! Nice find on the traffic to Facebook's privacy settings page.

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?

And "people who are going bananas over Beacon should understand that most people on Facebook are used to the default being opt-out (ie, lifestyle transparency), not opt-in (selective sharing)." I don't think that's right. My guess is most people on Facebook are very surprised to learn their activity on some other site could possibly show up on Facebook without their permission. If you don't think about this stuff carefully, it's very mysterious to see your movie ticket purchases suddenly show up on your profile without your explicit consent.

Finally, "as long as the userbase doesn't have a negative reaction, eventually the advertisers won't give a damn." Definitely true. Only it turns out the userbase does have a negative reaction.

Beacon was a really bonehead move. The product itself could possibly be good for users, but then why introduce it with such a devious sleight of hand with no universal opt-out? Facebook's now seen the light, and if they're smart they'll make Beacon useful enough that their users want to be in it.

Justin Smith

I agree that Facebook backpedaled too quickly/too much when they made Beacon opt-in... not many Beacon-sourced feed items will be distributed now.

dave mcclure

@dan lester: yep, agree. there should definitely be more sex / privacy education... by facebook as well as by others.

that's why i wrote Facebook knows what you did last summer this past summer.

dave mcclure

@john: bingo, i am pwnd.

(thank u sir may i have another)


Dave, you Schmuckerberg ass-kissing babboon, why don't you just fess up that you are his bitch and does his bidding with extreme bias.


agree. when i saw the new privacy setting it was just so natural. And your point about the advertisers is "head on". Think about that commercial, you hate it , but it works. And if it works they make their quarter. Grossly, thats why they are going green, not why we wish they were.
It was clearly a mistake. That whole few weeks leading up to ad week was foolish. It was like Arrington's 911 and Nick O'Neils cut and paste keys Bar Mitzvah. Somehow like always Sergey is laughing , but Mark will recover. A day without learning is a day wasted. Its usually to be blamed on the coaches. Ill take JD,MM,RB, etal on my sideline over PT&kids anyday. But im just judging what to me is a video game. I wish i could make such mistakes. Speaking of video games .RockBand is the most insane fun in years. Im sure once RockBand is peeking, and helping the average person enjoy their day, they will find many ways to destroy the morale of that company too.

Dan Lester

In my view, the uproar was really about making it too hard to notice you were being Beaconed. You're right that most users don't even know about all the fuss - which is why the opt-out is fairly useless if they don't know to go and check the box, and their Christmas present secrets can still be spilled...

To continue your abortion analogy, it's like Facebook have taken away pregnancy testing kits (or perhaps it's contraception, but anyway...)

And if it's only due to the blogosphere that we're all clued up, who's giving the general public their sex education lectures?

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