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Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has apologised to members over “mistakes” made when implementing its targeted ad platform on an opt-out basis.

The Beacon system was moved to an opt-in footing last week after causing much ire among privacy campaigners, and users have now been offered a tool to turn it off permanently.

In a post on the Facebook blog, Zuckerberg wrote:

“We've made a lot of mistakes building this feature, but we've made even more with how we've handled them. We simply did a bad job with this release, and I apologise for it.”

The introduction of Beacon is not the first time Facebook has had ad-related problems this year, although a lack of targeting was actually the issue when a number of brands abandoned the site in August.

Its addition last month caused widespread protests from members, with pressure group Moveon.org gaining 55,000 signatures to a petition demanding it move to a permission-based model.

The nub, Zuckerberg said, was that “we missed the right balance”.

“The problem with our initial approach of making it an opt-out system instead of opt-in was that if someone forgot to decline to share something, Beacon still went ahead and shared it with their friends.

“It took us too long after people started contacting us to change the product so that users had to explicitly approve what they wanted to share.

“Instead of acting quickly, we took too long to decide on the right solution. I'm not proud of the way we've handled this situation and I know we can do better.”

Related stories:
Another victory for social network campaigners

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Published 6 December, 2007 by Richard Maven

529 more posts from this author

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