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Boycott Facebook & Related Sites

Let me stipulate a few facts:
* I live my life online.
* I have gotten very used to a certain (large) lack of privacy in most traditional senses.
* I am in favor of business relationships with independent media creators.

But the way that Facebook’s Beacon is setting cookies and sending my very specific online behavior (at selected sites) back to it’s databases not in the aggregate but assigned to my personal data, is going too far.

Beacon is getting a lot of bad press, but this article in PC World hits bottom for me.

I am going to boycott Facebook for now. Please join me. Let their traffic plummet and see how fast the users can speak.

If you think you need to use Facebook for some reason, you can use Firefox and manually block at least some of this bad behavior.

From gigaom here are some of the participating sites that I also plan to boycott:
The 44 sites that have partnered with Facebook include everyone from Kongregate, LiveJournal, NYTimes (NYT), Sony Online, Blockbuster (BBI), Bluefly.com, STA Travel, The Knot, TripAdvisor, Travel Ticker, TypePad, viagogo, Vox, Yelp, WeddingChannel.com and Zappos.com. I’ve also heard Fandango and Epicurious.

I am happy to announce our client, Here Comes The Guide does not participate, so all you brides? Stay away from The Knot and Wedding Channel! And head over to the nice, ad-free Here Comes the Guide site and plan your wedding in peace and privacy. FYI, they have a great business model and are an excellent example of a company that provides a great service and expertly balances the desires of brides with the sustainability of bridal vendors.

UPDATE: When I said “related sites” in the title, I was referring to the 40+ sites who are in on the Beacon tracking system with Facebook, and was not lumping all social networking sites into the pot. Innocent until proven guilty applies here.

UPDATE 2: Chris Heuer provides an excellent and scholarly commentary on Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg’s most recent apology.

I am glad there is forward movement on the Beacon situation, but this closing remark indicates there is more work to do:

Last week we changed Beacon to be an opt-in system, and today we’re releasing a privacy control to turn off Beacon completely. You can find it here. If you select that you don’t want to share some Beacon actions or if you turn off Beacon, then Facebook won’t store those actions even when partners send them to Facebook.

“even when partners send them to Facebook”?? Let’s keep at it folks. Don’t track data to individuals. Consider us a herd if you must, but let us retain the semblance of privacy that can exist in the aggregate while you attempt to figure out how to reach us. (Even though countless among us are posting on this topic daily.)

7 Comments on “Boycott Facebook & Related Sites

  1. Wow, boycott facebook? Hmmm… I like what you’re saying and I really do believe that they’re getting out of line on this one but I am a manager of some serious groups and connections and have been a huge ‘social-networking/facebook’ advocate up until now… I’ll have to think of this one…

  2. Point taken Joe. But a drastic slowdown in traffic for a week would tell them a lot. I think it is time for the collective of users aka contributors aka “eyeballs” to realize the aggregated power we hold. Seems like the buyers and sellers have that nailed – and we are pawns. It’s a nice polite way to let them know what we like or don’t like.

  3. I am with you on this one Rox. I don’t mind a little data mining here and there for services rendered, but they cross the line on this one. I hope FB realizes that there are a number of other sites that we could migrate to in the drop of a hat!


  4. Way to go Rox, I’m also with you on this! If enough people participate in the boycott, it could speak volumes in relation to all our rights, privacy issues or lack of, not just with Facebook but also in relation to what our country faces now. It always has been power to the people if we use it.

  5. I’ve tried to work with Facebook, but it really is just a glorified MySpace isn’t it? For college kids? One tiny step up from Xanga? Or Place 4 Friends?

    Data mining your customers to push ads at them is so 1950s. God, these die-hard bozos would monetize air and sunshine if they thought they could make a quick buck at it, and don’t give a flying fig about who they annoy.

    Only a fool thinks negative publicity is better than no publicity at all. That’s like “if it weren’t for bad luck, I’d have no luck at all.” Facebook has pretty much destroyed what ephemeral usefulness it might have seemed to have. Greed. Didn’t Enron teach us anything?

    It’s so easy to Mutiny. Migrate. Move to _______. There are so many socnets and microblogging/status update services out there. You can move your group off Facebook and into Ning or Yippikaya or Tumblr or Virb or … etc.

    I am here right now, due to Twitter being down. About to head off to Jaiku and Pownce and see what my pals are blabbering about over there. Probably how pathetic Twitter is.


  6. That flash presentation is quite awesome Vern. Definitely something to think about. I am seeing more and more people trying to figure out how to completely clear their Facebook history. I am going to paste this link inside my FB account and see if it survives. They are known to filter content too.