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FACEBOOK reverses course

By Jackie Burrell
Thursday, November 29th, 2007 at 9:04 pm in Teens.

SpyIn a major reversal, Facebook is changing its controversial “Beacon” feature. For the last several weeks, when members made purchases, declared “favorites” or posted reviews on certain other web sites, Facebook sent the details to all their friends as part of their daily news feed, without asking permission.

Needless to say, the feature pleased advertisers, but it enraged many members who saw it as a major privacy violation. In some cases, the news feed included details about holiday shopping, prompting comparisons between Facebook and Dr. Seuss’ Grinch. A Facebook protest group organized by MoveOn.org had reached 24,000 members by Monday afternoon. It stood at 54,000 today.

This evening, Facebook did a complete 180. “We appreciate feedback from all Facebook users,” said spokeswoman Rachel Peterson, “and made some changes to Beacon.” Not only will members be shown a screen when they log in that tells them exactly what Facebook is planning to post and asks for their OK, but Facebook also added an “external websites” section to its privacy page that allows users to opt out completely. For details and screen shots, check out Facebook’s explanatory web page.

Meanwhile, happy shopping. The Grinch won’t tell a soul.

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