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 AllFacebook.com 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.
A 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, “CBSSports.com is sending this to your Facebook profile: Tom joined Free Fantasy Football – CBSSports.com on CBSSports.com 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.
Looking at the source reveals this code, confirming this is indeed the comeback of Beacon:
Going 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.
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.
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.