I read about Charlene Li’s Facebook Beacon encounter last week and thought that Facebook had probably stepped over the line.  But since I hadn’t experienced the opt-out mechanism myself I didn’t have a strong reaction.  Then I got Beaconed on Friday night and now I’m going to avoid Facebook until they get this figured out.  On Friday night I used Fandango to purchase tickets for American Gangster.  We have 5 PCs in our apartment (not including my work laptop) and I decided to use the general purpose (check the weather) machine in the kitchen.  After I bought the tickets a pop-up did appear and then very quickly disappeared that I’m assuming was the opt-out mechanism.

The Associated Press reported last week that Facebooks users who make purchases at sites participating in the program have just 20 seconds in which to opt out of having that information published. That’s because the opt-out mechanism consisted of a small pop-up that vanishes 20 seconds after it appeared. After the window disappears, so does the user’s chance to opt out. [From Mediapost Blogs.]

I don’t think I had 20 seconds and I wasn’t paying attention – I was printing out my movie tickets.  What was worse, though, was that the last person to log into Facebook on that machine was my son, so his Facebook news feed had this:Facebook_beacon

So they invaded my privacy and posted the results in my kid’s newsfeed.  This doesn’t work for me and I suspect there are all sorts of other situations where it won’t work for others.