Nov 22, 2007

How Beacon Could Kill Facebook

Facebook's Beacon program, an attempt to monetize social networking, has caused an uproar in recent days (see's protest here).

There are two major reasons why Beacon could kill facebook.

1) Spam. Facebook is wonderfully free of spam in its current state. Users see interesting relevant information about friends and can easily keep in touch with hundreds of "weak link" contacts.

Beacon will change this. Instead of relevant information, users will now see what their friends have purchased at Zappo's shoes, what they have rented at blockbuster or what newspaper they've subscribed to. This is neither relevant, nor interesting.

2) Opt Out - Facebook is a great permission marketing medium. Users can join groups and receive messages on topics of their interest. Permission marketing through other mediums, such as email, have been built on double opt in processes. Meaning users have to indicate that they want to receive messages from a company not once, but twice.

Beacon uses an opt out approach, meaning users have to indicate that they don't want a purchase on a partner site, such as Block Buster, to be shown on their profile or news feed.

Trust, reliability and relevance of information are cornerstones of Facebook's success. Beacon flies in the face of those principals, and could lead to Facebook's demise.

Peter from Silicon Alley, writes about two easy steps Facebook could take to make Beacon a positive, including making Beacon opt in and giving users a reason to sign up for the program. Read the full post here .

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