Privacy Group Takes on Facebook

The latest advertiser to use Facebook’s new Social Ads platform may not have been the kind of marketer the company was hoping for. Privacy watchdog has posted an online petition demanding that Facebook respect the privacy of users by making it easier to opt out of the “Beacon Ads” program, where actions Facebook users take on partner sites are added to their Facebook news feed. The feed is delivered to the user’s friends, along with a related ad and the user’s profile picture.

The full petition text reads:

“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.” has also launched a group on Facebook, “Petition: Facebook, stop invading my privacy!.” There are currently more than 4,900 members.

Facebook does not offer users an option to opt out of the program, other than eliminating their feed altogether. Users can opt out on a case by case basis with each advertiser.

When a user buys something from a participating advertiser, a pop-up box notifies the user that it will send that information to Facebook, with an option for the user to click “No thanks.” If the user doesn’t, a message will pop up at their next Facebook visit asking for permission to share that data with the user’s friends. thinks that’s not enough. In the Facebook group, they write:

“Facebook says its users can ‘opt out’ of having their private purchases reported to all their friends. But that option is easily missed. And even if you do ‘opt out’ for purchases on one site, it doesn’t apply to purchases on another site – you have to keep opting out over and over again. The obvious solution is to switch to an ‘opt in’ policy, like most other applications on Facebook.”

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