Scott Monty

 

Modest doubt is call’d
The beacon of the wise, the tent that searches
To the bottom of the worst.
- William Shakespeare, Troilus and Cressida, Act ii Sc. 2

If you've missed the whole Facebook Beacon dustup, here's a quick recap of what went wrong. Boiled down, it goes like this: the new program Facebook is running shows the details in your news stream of your purchases with any of the 22 or so Facebook partners who are part of the Beacon program (Overstock.com, Fandango, Zappos, etc.), so your Facebook network knows what you've been doing.

Kind of creepy, right? Well, the public first reacted with modest doubt, then became vehement over what can only be described as a huge lapse in judgment by Facebook. At first, Facebook gave only passing mention that your details would be shown, then the gradually released more information - but the problem was, there was no way to opt out (or in, for that matter).

To their credit, Facebook has listened.

The New York Times did a great job illustrating the Evolution of Facebook's Beacon. Visually, the evolution looks like this:




The latest update is that the two-day deadline on replying is gone. Now, if you don't respond, you're assumed to have opted out. But this is not a blanket opt-out, just an opt out on a particular transaction.

Update: Facebook has changed the requirements so that you can opt in or out of each partner program. Hat-tip to Jeremiah for that one.

Is this enough? Has Facebook saved itself with this evolution, or do they need to go further? I'd argue that they at least need to do a little more research or bring someone on board who understands the user experience when designing notifications. I'd be interested to hear your thoughts.

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