MoveOn.org vs. Facebook


Liberal watchdog group MoveOn.org is making allegations that Facebook’s new social advertising strategy is violating users privacy. The service in question is called Beacon and is explained in this passage from CNET.com:

Beacon, which is part of Facebook’s new social advertising strategy, broadcasts information about members’ activity on third-party partner sites to their friends’ “News Feeds.” MoveOn’s campaign has cited problems with the program ranging from its potential to reveal a user’s entire holiday shopping list to the possibility that it might expose sensitive information that could put someone at risk.

Is MoveOn.org right? Are Facebook user’s privacy rights being violated? I’m not really sure. I’m inclined to agree with Jessica, who has noted over on her blog, that people (like this guy) who post personal details about themselves online and then complain when others find their information have a weak case.

What I AM interested in knowing is why MoveOn.org has a HUGE banner headline on their Web site complaining about Facebook, and then IMMEDIATELY encourages people to USE Facebook.


Isn’t it kind of hard to make the case that MoveOn.org really cares all that much about privacy when it’s asking them to become active in the system it is raging against? Wouldn’t a better strategy involve asking folks to switch to an alternate, privacy-friendly social networking site like…well….there isn’t really one, but you get my point.

UPDATE:  MoveOn.org explains their strategy in the comments section (Thanks, Adam)


3 Responses to “MoveOn.org vs. Facebook”

  1. November 23, 2007 at 12:45 am

    Hi – this is Adam Green with MoveOn. First, happy Thanksgiving. Second, seems kinda obvious why we would ask people (presumably those who are Facebook members) to join our group and organize from within. We actually like Facebook — they are helping to revolutionize how we communicate to each other and organize together in a 21st century democracy. We just want them to have responsible policies so they don’t lose people’s trust. So, it’s perfectly consistent that we’d organize from within…allowing the Facebook staff to see (on the Wall of the group) exactly what their users are thinking.


  2. November 25, 2007 at 7:51 pm

    Good post. I couldn’t agree more with your take on this whole “privacy scare”. It’s quite ridiculous to say the least.

    In the end, everyone will be OK and we’ll all “Move on” to more important things.

  3. November 30, 2007 at 3:58 pm

    Good point. And keep up the good work at MoveOn.

    “Privacy scare”? How would you like it if you bought your wife a ring (from Overstock.com) as a surprise and she found out through Facebook. READ:

    From Wash Post:

    Sean Lane’s purchase was supposed to be a surprise for his wife. Then it appeared as a news headline — “Sean Lane bought 14k White Gold 1/5 ct Diamond Eternity Flower Ring from overstock.com” — last week on the social networking Web site Facebook.

    Without Lane’s knowledge, the headline was visible to everyone in his online network, including 500 classmates from Columbia University and 220 other friends, co-workers and acquaintances.

    And his wife.

    The wraps came off his Christmas gift thanks to a new advertising feature called Beacon, which shares news of Facebook members’ online purchases with their friends. The idea, according to the company, is to allow merchants to effectively turn millions of Facebook users into a “word-of-mouth promotion” service.

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