After 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 AllFacebook.com 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.