Skip to main content

Facebook spying scandal comes to an end

Faceook is the fastest growing social networking site on the web, with 60m active user accounts

Facebook has finally backed down over the Beacon privacy scandal that has caused controversy over the last week. The Beacon opt-out scheme collected information about each users' purchases and then automatically told their friends what they'd been buying, by displaying the information in their news feeds using targeted advertising.

At first it was an opt-out scheme which automatically included all Facebook users. This caused outrage amongst many Facebook account holders. Then Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerbeg, announced that it had been changed to an opt-in scheme, which meant people had to actually declare that they wanted to be involved before Beacon was implemented.

But then it was discovered that even if you opted out of the Beacon system, it was still collecting your private data and storing it in Facebook's database.

Now, after blogs and news sites attacked these data collection policies, Zuckerberg has announced a new option that enables Facebook members to turn Beacon off altogether.

Zuckerberg relents

"Instead of acting quickly, we took too long to decide on the right solution. I'm not proud of the way we've handled this situation and I know we can do better," he said on the Facebook blog.

"We've made a lot of mistakes building this feature, but we've made even more with how we've handled them. We simply did a bad job with this release, and I apologise for it. While I am disappointed with our mistakes, we appreciate all the feedback we have received from our users. I'd like to discuss what we have learned and how we have improved Beacon.

"Last week we changed Beacon to be an opt-in system, and today we're releasing a privacy control to turn off Beacon completely. 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."

James Rivington

James has been working with TechRadar for over 12 years and is now the Global Editor-in-Chief of eCommerce at TR and its sister sites including PC Gamer and That means he looks after buying guides and deals pages as well as all of the nifty price comparison tools we use to help readers find the best deals on the coolest products.