Zuck apologizes for Beacon — announces a full opt-out

beacon-problem.jpgFacebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg, smarting from the public pounding the company took for the ad feature it released last month that critics said violated user privacy, has written a public apology.

Significantly, he announces an option for full opt-out from Beacon, which is new. [Update: When we first tried it out this morning, the opt-out wasn’t working clearly. The company has since fixed it, and it’s working fine.]

Excerpts from his blog post:

“We simply did a bad job with this release, and I apologize for it…

…When we first thought of Beacon, our goal was to build a simple product to let people share information across sites with their friends….At first we tried to make it very lightweight so people wouldn’t have to touch it for it to work. The problem with our initial approach of making it an opt-out system instead of opt-in was that if someone forgot to decline to share something, Beacon still went ahead and shared it with their friends.

It took us too long after people started contacting us to change the product so that users had to explicitly approve what they wanted to share…Facebook has succeeded so far in part because it gives people control over what and how they share information.

..Beacon also needs to do the same. People need to be able to explicitly choose what they share, and they need to be able to turn Beacon off completely if they don’t want to use it.

This has been the philosophy behind our recent changes. Last week we changed Beacon to be an opt-in system, and today we’re releasing a privacy control to turn off Beacon completely. You can find it here. 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.

See image below for the opt-out feature.

beacon-image.jpg