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Facebook fiasco caused by economics of the web

I've never been a fan of social-networking sites. I don't use LinkedIn, MySpace or Facebook, or other services that offer to share my information with a circle of my "online friends".

The main reason I've avoided these services is that I've always been leery of how the companies that run the services might use or otherwise fail to protect my private information. I've been expressing my skepticism for years, ever since I came out against Plaxo in 2004. Visit Security Advisor for the latest PC security news, reviews, tips and tricks.

Since the controversy over Facebook Ads and its Beacon technology hit the fan last month, it seems my social network privacy paranoia is totally justified. Prescient, even.

In case you missed the news, Facebook was forced to do an about-face with its new automated word-of-mouth advertising service. Individual users, security experts and privacy watchdogs all complained that Facebook was surreptitiously gathering data about people who use Facebook or services from Facebook partner companies, like Blockbuster and Fandango. Users of these services had their online movements and activities tracked, logged and sometimes published without their knowledge or permission. According to Facebook, the intention of collecting this information was to be able to present highly targeted ads to web users and to the people in their social networks.

For the past month, people have been expressing their outrage and their shock. I'm outraged, but I'm certainly not shocked. The technology to collect this usage information has been available for some time. It's just that Facebook is the first company that has had the guts to try to use it for financial gain.

Blame it on the economics of the web.

I've never been a fan of social-networking sites. I don't use LinkedIn, MySpace or Facebook, or other services that offer to share my information with a circle of my "online friends".

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