Nick O’Neill at All Facebook has the news that Facebook has backtracked on its Beacon feature (as I expected they might), and will now present the data for a Facebook user to approve before it is added to their news feed. In other words, you could now prevent the information about the Christmas present (or Christmakkah present) you bought from being broadcast to the person you bought it for.
Will the statement from Facebook placate all of the Beacon critics? That’s pretty unlikely — I think some people have the knives out for anything that they see as an infringement on their privacy, even if they have to agree before their privacy even gets infringed. I know that my friend Leigh, for example, feels very strongly about the Facebook tracking idea, but I honestly don’t see what the big deal is (Update: I’m glad to see that Fred Wilson agrees with me).
Hopefully now that Facebook has made it even more obvious for users what is being tracked, and they have to explicitly approve it before it’s added to their news feed, some of the complaints will die down. Just to be clear, users have always had to approve the disclosure, but many have complained that it was too confusing, or they weren’t paying attention, or the opt-out notice disappeared too quickly, or whatever.
So now, as I understand it, Facebook will present you with a notice about the shopping or other behaviour it has tracked through a partner site like Amazon, and if you click OK then it will be added to your news feed. And then Facebook will let me know that you bought “Chicken Soup For the Heartless Bastard” or whatever, and I will promptly ignore that just like I ignore most of the things in my feed.