Facebook has gotten all the bad publicity anybody could ever want over their intrusive “Beacon” marketing/advertising/information gathering widget. On top of everything else, researchers have discovered that despite Facebook’s modification of their permission settings, Facebook is still collecting information about all your purchases at retailers participating in the program, even if you are not logged on to Facebook.
“When a Facebook user takes a Beacon-enabled action on a participating site, information is sent to Facebook in order for Facebook to operate Beacon technologically. If a Facebook user clicks “No, thanks” on the partner site notification, Facebook does not use the data and deletes it from its servers. Separately, before Facebook can determine whether the user is logged in, some data may be transferred from the participating site to Facebook. In those cases, Facebook does not associate the information with any individual user account, and deletes the data as well.”
[Computer Associates Research engineer]Googins reiterates that Facebook’s statement contradicts the earlier communications of its privacy department. While he allows that from a technical standpoint, some data exchange is to determine whether or not the user is logged in to Facebook, the site could retain the same utility while collecting only a fraction of the information that is currently being sent.
Facebook is caught in a bizarre world of their own making; a utility for splashing all sorts of information about yourself onto the Internet, used by people who are extremely sensitive about privacy. Until Facebook allows users to opt out of the program entirely, people’s suspicions about what is being done with their personal information will continue — and will be entirely warranted.