The Beacon advertising programme was used in conjunction with around 40 sites and posted details about what purchases have been made by Facebook users. Up till now, users could only click on a opt-out Beacon box to keep their shopping secret, but given the short period of time the box was available (around 20 seconds) this option was hardly acceptable.
The first of wave of complaints came from users that saw their Christmas purchases revealed to everyone, including the very persons that were supposed to be surprised by the gifts.
Next came MoveOn.org, an organization that set up a Facebook group with over 59,000 members, all of them protesting against the Beacon system.
"Facebook deserves credit for taking a huge step in the right direction," said MoveOn.org spokesman Adam Green. "Its decision will hopefully set a precedent for all websites, that the wish-lists of corporate advertisers must not be put before the basic rights of internet users. When sites like Facebook listen to users and take steps in the right direction, a little positive feedback goes a long way in encouraging them to keep it up."
It’s a good outcome for Facebook users (and everyone else caring about online privacy) but, in the mean time, it’s a severe setback for those willing to push the boundaries of online advertising even further.