So Facebook have finally had to back-track on their plans for their social advertising after more than 50,000 users demanded to be heard.

Protests force Facebook to change

Facebook had launched Beacon to the advertising community, with over 40 companies including eBay and Blockbuster joined up. Every time you bought something on their sites, Facebook was notified. What you had done elsewhere then turned up on your Facebook friend’s pages as your “mini-feed” told them what you had been up to, unless you chose to “opt out”.

Beacon was from the outset a purely a get-rich-quick scheme on the part of Facebook and I am not sure who they thought they were helping with this process, certainly not their fan base. The whole point of web 2.0 is that users can destroy a brand as fast as marketers can build it – and this is a grave concern for modern-day advertisers. You need to embrace permission and conversation as opposed to being deliberately intrusive. Those days are long gone. We are far more educated and aware now.

The movement began with civil rights site and a campaign called “Facebook is ruining my Christmas” citing someone’s girlfriend who had bought an item online, that then appeared in her boyfriend’s mini-feed and thus ruining the surprise.

“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.”

So with Facebook now changing this to be an ‘opt-in’ as opposed to ‘opt-out’ and is being seen as a huge success on behalf of privacy groups, thought personally I do not feel it goes far enough.

As recently quoted on AppScout:

The ease with which your personal information is shared with Facebook appears to be at the discretion of the participating advertiser. Movie-ticket purchases from Fandango, for example, are automatically sent to Facebook unless you check a blink-and-you-miss-it “No Thanks” box at the bottom right of the purchase confirmation page.

With no real control over your privacy, and most options being a single on-off switch en masse, Facebook is causing a real split out in the real world. Listen to friends discussing at work or in pubs and listen to the real determination of some despite the peer pressure, the stories of relationship troubles is widely known, as people from your past are suddenly very much their in your present – especially as they start publishing you across the entire web. I am sure I for one won’t be the last person to ‘opt-out’ of the site altogether.

What is clear though is that who says we have to sit back and accept all this, that we can not make a difference and just need to roll over and play dead? It’s fantastic to see the online community motivated to challenge the echelons of power at the top and say ‘actually, no’.