Facebook's Zuckerberg issues mea culpa on Beacon

In a post to the company's official Web log early Wednesday, the CEO of Facebook conceded his company made a lot of mistakes in building its controversial advertising platform.

"We've made a lot of mistakes building this feature, but we've made even more with how we've handled them," stated Jeff Zuckerberg in a post to his corporate blog this morning. "We simply did a bad job with this release, and I apologize for it. While I am disappointed with our mistakes, we appreciate all the feedback we have received from our users."

Facebook intended its Beacon service to be an easy way for users to share information on their Web activities with all their friends. However, it quickly turned into a public relations nightmare for the social network.

Critics such as the liberal activist group MoveOn.org criticized Beacon as a egregious breach of privacy, and security firms were able to confirm that the service was sending data even if the user had opted out of the service.

The site attempted to counter the criticism with explaining the system, saying the data sent even if a user has opted out is deleted automatically when it reaches the sites servers and is not saved.

In most of its critics eyes, this was not sufficient. Thus, Zuckerberg came out in defense of his company, as well as explaining how user concerns would be addressed. He said the site's aim to make Beacon 'lightweight' may have been the first mistake.

Through that, the process became opt-out, and was automatically sharing information without any consent. From there when users began to complain, Zuckerberg said it took the company way too long to respond.

"I'm not proud of the way we've handled this situation and I know we can do better," he wrote.

Facebook's philosophy according to Zuckerberg is that they give users control over what and how they share information, and the Beacon program needed to do the same. It was for that reason that Beacon had been turned into an opt-in feature, giving users the ability to turn it completely off through a new piracy control.

"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," he continued.

While it is not immediately clear whether this will stop companies from continuing to transmit data to the social networking site, it remains to be seen whether fixes such as this will appease the concerns of thousands of Facebook users.

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