Facebook and The Privacy Backlash

For those of who don’t know (ie you don’t read techmeme, techcrunch, and their ilk), Facebook has been the subject of a mini privacy backlash over its ‘beacon’. Just yesterday Facebook made a move to attempt to alleviate some of the privacy concerns

We’ve seen this before. Doubleclick’s acquisition of Abacus in the late 90s caused a huge backlash. We’ve seen Google come under privacy scrutiny as well. The fears expressed in these various privacy backlashes are always overblown.

My view, for those who haven’t been reading this blog for a long time, is that all of this privacy stuff is way over the top. You need to disclose what you are doing and Facebook has done that. You need to give users a way to opt out and I believe but am not sure that Facebook has done that. Certainly the partner sites that are runnning Facebook’s beacon need to disclose and provide an opt out

But beyond that, tracking what we do and reporting it to our friends and using that data to target advertising and content is a good thing. In fact, its why the Internet is getting better and better every day

When the internet knows who you are, what you do, who your friends are, and what they do, it goes from the random bar you wander into to your favorite pub where your friends congregate and the bartender knows your drink and pours it for you when you walk in the door

I would like my friends to know that I just bought tickets to see Daft Punk in early December. It would be great if that news was provided in my mini feed with a link to where my friends can buy tickets the same show

It would be great if the information that I bought a handmade scarf on Etsy allowed a friend to buy me a matching knit cap and send it to me as a gift. You all get the picture

These privacy backlashes do some good though. They keep big companies like Google and Facebook sensitized to the issue. And so we hope that they ‘do no evil’ with this data they are collecting

My point is that there is way more good to be done with this data than evil. I am happy when I see the beacon popping up on my screen these days