Facebook has watered down its unpopular Beacon ad platform, which "shared" information about users' online shopping habits with everyone in their Facebook network—without their permission. Now, instead of making users opt out every time they make a purchase if they don't want it to be broadcast, Facebook will only broadcast the transaction if user click "ok."
The change, unveiled last night, is an attempt to rescue a key element of Facebook's advertising strategy, which attemps to capitalize on the personal and behavioral information it collects to target ads in a new way. But users and privacy advocates alike were outraged by the involuntary sharing of personal data. Holiday shoppers were particularly incensed to have their gift purchases made known—often to the recipients. Facebook posted an apology on a MoveOn.org Facebook blog protesting the ads: "We're sorry if we spoiled some of your holiday gift-giving plans."