beacon – Stay N Alive

A Little More Information Regarding Beacon…

facebook_pic.pngAfter posting my article yesterday, the beacon controversy seems to have come back with a vengence, with articles by Mashable, TechCrunch, and even Valleywag (I’m actually not much of a Fantasy Football Enthusiast, but they can certainly call me one), to name a few. Today I received communication from Facebook clarifying where Facebook stands on the matter, and I thought I’d share so all are clear.

Let’s start with what Beacon is – I believe all, even I, have been unclear as to what it is, since only a few partners were brought on when it launched. Per an e-mail I received from Facebook, “We don’t charge developers, users or sites for Beacon or Connect use. Neither product is at all associated with advertising — no participating sites pay nor are they required to be advertisers.”

I mentioned that Facebook never took down their text about how to sign up for Beacon. Nick O’Neill of further clarified this by stating that Fandango and Kongregate and others were still using Beacon, even after people stopped blogging about it. ComputerWorld also has a great article mentioning that fact. Facebook has clarified this with the following statement:

“Since late 2007, Beacon has been available on dozens of participating sites after we made a series of improvements to ensure that users have control over what information is shared to their friends on Facebook. We are not accepting new developers into the program, and this is not using Facebook Connect.”

So just to be clear, Beacon, according to Facebook, is considered part of the developer Platform, not their advertising program. In addition to that, as of this moment, no new developers are being accepted into the program. Facebook has still neglected to remove the option to request to be part of Beacon on their advertisers page however, so I am still a little unclear as to their future intentions for this. In a further communication from them to me they did mention they have no further plans to expand at the time being. Facebook also mentioned they have about 30 developers as part of their original program started in 2007, and that they have “continued to make improvements in the UI since then.”

As I mentioned, I still welcome the new options Beacon seems to be giving users. I’m now empowered as a user to decide if I want Beacon to send things to my Mini Feed on Facebook or not. It will be interesting to see if Facebook continues the program, or if it gets phased out as Facebook Connect emerges.

Beacon Makes a Comeback, With More Choices and Options

UPDATE: A Facebook Representative has clarified this a little further by saying Facebook Beacon is actually a free product. Per their statement, “We don’t charge developers, users or sites for Beacon or Connect use. Neither product is at all associated with advertising — no participating sites pay nor are they required to be advertisers.” I have corrected the article below to reflect that.

In addition, as Nick O’Neill of states (and I alluded to below), Beacon never really went away. Fandango and others have used and have been using Beacon even though people stopped blogging about it. Per a statement by Facebook they are not accepting any new users into the program however. See my follow up to this post here.

Picture 6.pngA message appeared from a top poster on the Facebook Developer Forums today which seems to indicate that beacon may be making a comeback. Facebook Developer, Tom Kincaid, noticed an interesting message when signing up for CBS Sportsline on Tuesday. After signing up, a popup appeared, mentioning, “ is sending this to your Facebook profile: Tom joined Free Fantasy Football – on Fantasy”. It then gave him the option to close the popup, decline the message, or mention it wasn’t him.

Sure enough, trying this myself, I was able to see it myself. You can verify by signing up for CBS Sportsline, and then signing up for a Fantasy Football team. The message stays up for about 5-10 seconds, then it minimizes to the bottom of the window with a little “show” button to make it re-appear. Oddly enough, it appears there is a bug with the “show” button, because clicking on it made the popup disappear forever.

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Looking at the source reveals this code, confirming this is indeed the comeback of Beacon:

Picture 9.pngGoing back to Facebook, it appears that Facebook is now giving you the option to post it to your mini feed or not. If you select “okay”, it gets posted straight to your mini-feed for your friends to see. So it seems Facebook this time may be doing it right, making the users choose before a message goes back to their mini feed.

I’ve mentioned previously that Facebook has never removed the information about beacon for advertisers. Even today you can go to “Advertising“, then “More business solutions” at the bottom of the page, and then you will be given the option to e-mail Facebook about signing up for the service. I mentioned before that it was unclear if they were actually fulfilling these requests, but it appears they may just be doing so. The beacon message even appears to have a fresh new design to it.

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As it never really went anywhere, users can still go into their privacy settings and turn off beacon as they choose, but it defaults to on currently. With choice, maybe this isn’t so bad though.

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Facebook has mentioned before that they are approaching revolutionary new methods of advertising to better monetize their network. I believe this may just be the start of doing so. This is powerful, and important technology, and puts Facebook up just one above their competitors in the battle to become the social networking platform for all.

We talk about the beacon controversy in “I’m on Facebook–Now What???“. Purchase a copy to learn more about its controversial history and more.