Facebook is Watching You

// i'm gonna try something new. as the resident internet geek here, i'll be sharing some of the latest internet / technology news with you, and more importantly, tell you why it's important to you. to start things off, let's go with Facebook's newest feature...

Beacon is a social form of advertising that shares your purchases or other actions you take on an advertiser's site with all your friends on Facebook through their News Feeds. What has privacy advocates up in arms, and advertisers skittish, about Beacon is the way it seems to be spying on you as you surf the Web and then, on top of that, reporting what you just did to everyone you know.

Basically, Facebook has partnered with over 40 companies, including eBay, Blockbuster.com, NYTimes.com and College Humor. Example:

Mel is on Blockbuster.com. He decides to rent Brokeback Mountain (Extended Version). Within a couple clicks, Brokeback Mountain is on the top of his queue, and will be the next movie mailed out to him. Mel doesn't see the little notification on the lower right of his screen:

Then say Samir logs onto Facebook and sees in his Newsfeed. "Mel has rented Brokeback Mountain from Blockbuster.com!" Samir tells everyone. Everyone makes fun of Mel. Mel runs away.

Okay, a little over-dramatic. How about this:

Samir is planning to propose to his girlfriend. Sam finds a great deal on an engagement ring from eBay. He buys the ring. Within minutes, all of Samir's friends on Facebook have seen the news that "Samir bought an engagement ring from eBay.com!"

This is one situation that I've read about. I'm not sure if this really happened, but with Facebook's Beacon project, it certainly can happen. I mean shit, Facebook even confessed that it's tracking the activities of non-facebook users.

Thankfully, a lot of users and companies are putting pressure on Facebook, and it appears that Facebook is caving in. We'll see how it goes. In the meantime, watch out for that little notification before it blasts something to all of your Facebook friends.