Anti-piracy Outcry Over Facebook Ad System

Facebook is becoming more of a viral marketing scheme has upset users worldwide. For example, a 20-year-old college student from Long Island knows everything that his girlfriend is getting him for the planned holidays. Her purchases popped up on her Facebook page, via the social-networking giant’s controversial new advertising feature.

The Beacon advertising feature displays a feed of individual items bought on Facebook partner sites. Whenever a Facebook user buys a product, signs up for a service, or adds an individual item to a wishlist on a participating site, Facebook displays a ” story” about the action on the user’s profile and in his or her newsfeed, another controversial Facebook feature that displays photos, posts, and other bits of information on friends’ profiles.

When performing a Beacon action, users get a message giving them to opt out of each story but not the service as a whole. Retailers can participate in the program simply by posting a few lines of code on a site.

MoveOn has started a Facebook group for its petition to make Beacon into an opt-in system instead of an opt-out feature. “Facebook must respect my privacy. They should not tell my friends what I buy on other sites — or let companies use my name to endorse their products — without my explicit permission,” the petition states.

MoveOn says the current opt-out feature is “easily missed,” and that “even if you do opt out for purchases on one site, it doesn’t apply to purchases on another site — you have to keep opting out repeatedly again.”

The solution, the group says, is simple. Beacon, like most other Facebook applications, should be something users preferably choose to willingly participate in, not something they have to opt out of.