Friday, November 30, 2007

Facebook Users Petition for Facebook Reform on Ads

On November 7, 2007 Facebook announced through its blog that it has added “Social Ads” to the social networking site. According to the blog, Social Ads would bring about the following changes for Facebook users:

  • You now have a way to connect with products, businesses, bands, celebrities and more on Facebook.
  • Ads should be getting more relevant and more meaningful to you
  • you now have the option to share actions you take on other sites with your friends on Facebook
In addition, the blog outlined that the following Facebook features would not change:
  • Facebook will always stay clutter-free and clean.
  • Facebook will never sell any of your information.
  • You will always have control over your information and your Facebook experience.
  • You will not see any more ads than you did before this.
In the spirit of Social Ads, approximately 3 weeks ago, Facebook launched “Beacon”, a program which allowed about 40 sites (including, and to send messages to friends of Facebook users informing them that their “friend” has made a transaction on their site.

As a result of their private transactions being published, some Facebook users began to experience an invasion of privacy and a feeling of loss of control over their information, an area that has always been of concern to Facebook users and one which was promised not to change in the applicable Facebook blog. In response to this growing concern,, a site which offers a “political voice” to concerned citizens” launched the following petition:

Sites like 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.
In the past 10 days, the petition has received over 50,000 signatures prompting a swift response with a promise for change from the Facebook camp. reports that a Facebook customer support representative “expressed facebook’s regrets” respecting the privacy invasion and loss of control that some users have felt. Facebook has further advised that they will implement a feature requiring users to provide explicit consent or an “opt –in” before information from the affiliated sites is passed along to Facebook friends.

No doubt, Facebook’s ongoing attempt to bring advertisement to the social networking site is an effort to bank on Facebook’s profitability which has previously been estimated at 15 billion. Facebook creator Mark Zukerberg and the Facebook team will now have to walk a fine line between nurturing the Facebook its users have grown to love, and making the site as profitable as Zuckerberg claims it is. With the quick growth of the petition, Facebook users have clearly alerted Facebook creators that any shift in the direction of profitability which conflicts with Facebook’s promises to its users will not be tolerated.

- Annie Noa Kenet, Toronto

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