Study About The Facebook Beacon System Computer Science Essay

One can non assist but hold with the popular proverb “ One image is worth a 1000 words ” . .People who graduate from establishments want to pass on with their friends every bit good as be able to see how they are making over the old ages, some employers set up groups to see the profiles of people before they are employed, households get reunited by seeing familiar faces and names and so on. All these have been brought to world by a societal public-service corporation that enables friends, households every bit good as other groups communicate efficaciously with one another through images, pictures, web logs, confabs, messages, stations and links called “ FACEBOOK ” . It was founded February 2004 and has been ranked the 2nd most known site in the universe, with over 500 million active users, over 2000 employees and over 22 offices worldwide. Statistically, over 200 million active users log on and pass on through their nomadic devices, an mean user is connected to about 80 community groups, pages and events, over 30 billion pieces of content A such as image albums, web logs, pages and links are circulated monthly A and over 2.5 million web sites have been successfully integrated with this societal site.Facebook merchandises and services include Facebook, Facebook Beacon, Facebook Connect, Facebook Groups, Facebook Inbox, Facebook Platform and Facebook Support.This wiki will concentrate on Facebook Beacon System.


2.1 The Facebook beacon system as presented by Facebook and their spouses

Beacon, was an advertisement package system launched by Facebook in November 6, 2007.It was presented as a system for web sites to incorporate and publicize their merchandises and services to Facebook users. It was designed to enable users portion their activities on some web sites with their Facebook friends. Forty – four web sites, bulk of which include, Blockbuster,, Busted Tees, CBS Interactive ( & A ; Dotspotter ) , CBS Interactive ( & A ; Dotspotter ) , Citysearch, CollegeHumor, eBay, echomusic, ExpoTV, Fandango, Gamefly, Hotwire, iWon, Joost, Kiva, Kongregate, LiveJournal, Live Nation, Mercantila, National Basketball Association,,,, ( RED ) , Redlight, SeamlessWeb, Sony Online Entertainment LLC, Sony Pictures, STA Travel, The Knot, TripAdvisor, Travel Ticker, Travelocity, TypePad, viagogo, Vox, Yelp, and were portion of the system. It was an “ opt-out ” system instead than an “ opt-in ” . Beacon enabled Facebook users to post on their several profiles, their activities such as online purchases, film engagements ; video/game trails concerns, and so on done on any of the web sites integrated with Facebook. The beacon plan in bend circulates the information to the users ‘ “ targeted ” friends on Facebook for sing and if possible future minutess with them. This was typically for wider spread of their merchandises and services ; it was a major selling scheme. The construct was majorly exciting for A Chuck Davis, CEO of Fandango and Gary Briggs, senior frailty president and main selling officer, eBay North America who expressed their extreme satisfaction. Chuck Davis said “ Peoples love to portion films with their friends. When it comes to films, everyone has an sentiment. Fandango is excited to be selected as one of the first sites to implement Beacon, leting Facebook users to portion the exhilaration of movie-going with their friends. ” Gary Briggs besides expressed this by stating “ Beacon offers an interesting new manner for us to present on our end of conveying more bidders and purchasers to our Sellerss ‘ listings. In a market place where trust and repute are important to success, giving Sellerss the ability to easy alarm their web of friends – the people who already know and trust them – to an point for sale has the possible to be a powerful tool. ”

How Facebook Beacon System Works

A web beacon is a signifier of tracking engineering that directs user information to another web site. It differs from cookies which shops the information in the user ‘s web browser. It is capable of directing relevant information such as IP Address of the system used, the type and version of browser, where the user is at the point of directing the message and so on. After any activity has been done by a user on any of the web sites linked, the information is sent from the web site to Facebook waiters. If the individual is a Facebook user, a prompt is displayed to inquire the user if he/she will wish to portion their recent activities with their other friends. If they do, all their friends on Facebook can entree this information through the News Feed or Mini-Feed Stories. If they click “ no thanks ” , this will non be shared. However, there was an issue with the latter. Before the user could choose this option, the duologue box disappears. This could merely be avoided if the user quickly opts out which was most of the clip was non the instance. This finally meant that the information will still be shared with other friends on Facebook.

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2.2.1 Figure demoing how Facebook Beacon plants

2.3 Issues of Concern Generated from the Beacon System

Four issues of concern evolved which include User Privacy, User Relationships, User Benefits and Data Protection.


Two major illustrations have been shared as respects this issue, one of which a jurisprudence suit was filed. Other illustrations had been expressed ; nevertheless, the two below were the extremely cited. The first illustration

Sean Lane wanted to surprise his married woman with a Christmas nowadays. He bought this from, one of the beacon spouse web sites. To his surprise after purchase, this web site had shared the information with all his confirmed friends on Facebook, some members of his administration, 500 schoolmates from A A Columbia University and most distressingly “ his married woman ” with the statement “ Sean Lane bought 14k White Gold 1/5 Nutmeg State Diamond Eternity Flower Ring from ” .This was the beginning of the category action case Lane et al.v Facebook which will be discussed subsequently. The 2nd illustration

Charlene Li purchased a java tabular array from utilizing her personal electronic mail reference. She had two Facebook profiles, a personal 1 and a public 1. She logged into Facebook utilizing her public Facebook profile and to her discouragement, “ Charlene bought Badin Square Coffee Table and one other point at ” was displayed at the top of her new provender. She argued that when the tabular array was bought at utilizing her browser, an Overstock cooky was created, which subsequently passed the information to Facebook. Facebook in bend ran a cheque to corroborate if the same browser was used for log in and if that was the instance, it displayed the information. This means that if anybody else had logged in utilizing the same browser into Facebook, Charlene ‘s information would hold been displayed. Charlene Li expressed her deep concerns by stating “ Imagine my horror if points were added to my Newsfeed because my childs were utilizing my computing machine ( “ Charlene played Dragon Fable last dark for 3 hours ” .

From the above unfortunate instances, it is really obvious that there is no signifier of privateness whatsoever. Take for illustration, another illustration whereby a strong Muslim truster who had no nervus to state his parents and household members he had given his life to Christ and became a Christian, liked a church advertizement thereby accepting “ I love Jesus ” on one of the web sites. Imagine what will go on if all his household members and friends viewed “ Mubarak loves Jesus and has given his life to him everlastingly ” on their intelligence provender. This could in fact get him killed!


There is supposed to be a customer-business relationship peculiar to each client. It is non right ethically for a company in which trust has been built advertise all points bought by a client to a 3rd party.


It can non be denied that convenience is provided through on-line banking. However, there is more harm than good in the instance of beacon. Facebook and the other advertisement systems get the net income for the concern minutess. This is non in any manner shared with Facebook populace. It is besides really raging that even people who are non interested in seeing different activities done by others such as things they bought, games they played etc stop up seeing it! This brings the existent inquiry into drama, of what benefit is Facebook Beacon to users?


Leah Pearlman in his proclamation on November 7th, 2007 stated that user information will ne’er be sold by Facebook to any 3rd party and that each user will ever hold proper laterality over the information distributed.The inquiry nevertheless remains: how is it that the partnering web sites market to a A targeted audience?

2.4 The First Intrusive Deviance of the Beacon System

A great figure of critics arose from Facebook users after the launching of the beacon system. Users were upset that their activities were published without due mandate. The users of Facebook could disenable the characteristic, nevertheless, this meant that they had to travel to each web site one after the other to acquire this done through the privateness control. The undertaking was boring as a consequence of the big figure of partnering sites. In add-on, the information was shared by default, which meant that uninformed users will hold their information distributed. A group of organisation called which is involved in political and civic actions created a Facebook group called Request: Facebook, halt occupying my privateness! .It was intended to drive the impression that user privateness must be extremely regarded.It started with one A member but surprisingly in the infinite of 9 yearss, 49,999 members had been added to the group..Under the force per unit area of and cases which occurred, Facebook decided to present a new characteristic allowing the users to disenable the characteristic of the beacon system of the web sites straight on Facebook

2.5 Further Crisis

Despite the privateness consciousness and the steps taken by Facebook in order to reassure its users about their privateness, the operation of the beacon system was considered more intrusive than expected.He inspected the web traffic created by the web sites utilizing the beacon system and discovered that the activities done on the web sites are sent to the Facebook waiters even if the user disabled the characteristic. In fact, the information was non displayed on the Facebook profile of the user but was still sent to the Facebook waiter. He besides found out that a user who had ne’er signed up on Facebook or who had deactivated their history was besides concerned by the intrusive characteristic of the beacon system. The IP references were sent to the Facebook waiters alternatively of the information about the Facebook history of the user. Logically, one time the IP reference is known, the user can be located.


A major case was filed known as “ Lane v. Facebook ” in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California

In add-on, another case was filed against one of the spouse sites utilizing the beacon system “ Harris v. Blockbuster ” in Texas ( Facebook was non named as a suspect here


3.1.1 Case Name

Sean Lane, et Al. v. Facebook, Inc. , Blockbuster Inc. , Fandango Inc. , Hotwire, Inc. , STA Travel Inc. ,, Inc. ,, GameFly, Inc

3.1.2 Background

A category action case was filed against Facebook and seven endeavors which used the Facebook beacon system as seen in subdivision 3.1.1.The footing for the case was already discussed in subdivision above. The names of the complainants can be found in. The complainants fundamentally represented all the Facebook users ( about 3.6 million ) that had been affected by beacon spouse sites.

3.1.3 Claims

Facebook users ‘ information had been shared without proper mandate hence a span in privateness

3.1.4 Alleged Misdemeanors

They were alleged with misdemeanors of:

Electronic Communications Privacy Act, 18 U.S.C. A§2510

Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, 18 U.S.C. 1030

Video Privacy Protection Act, 18 U.S.C. A§2710

California ‘s Consumer Legal Remedies Act

California Civil Code A§1750

California ‘s Computer Crime Law, Penal Code A§502

3.1.5 Timeline of Events

August 12, 2008 -Action Law Suit was filed by Plaintiffs

December 9, 2008-Agreement was reached between complainants and suspects on the claims alleged.

February 1, 2010 – Choosing out colony deadline and for objecting to the colony

February 26, 2010 – Colony Hearing

January 15, 2010-Proposed Settlement to Judge Richard Seaborg

March 2010-Class Settlement approved by Judge Richard Seaborg

3.1.6 Case Holding

The colony between Facebook and the category action group was approved. There was a denial of any error which must hold occurred agreed a colony fund numbering $ 9.5 million with $ 6 million for lawyers and administrative costs.

3.1.7 Decision

This instance keeping colony raised a batch of indignation by two non-profit administrations, Electronic Privacy Information Centre and Centre for Digital Democracy which objected by reasoning that the complainants had non reasonably and adequately stand for the involvements of the category during the colonies dialogues. They besides included that the colony sum was deficient. They felt the right opinion could hold been that Facebook and the other endeavors involved should hold paid $ 875 1000000s in liquidated amendss with regard to the figure of Facebook users who had been affected and the sum of liquidated amendss for the misdemeanor of the Video Privacy Protection Act.


3.2.1 Case Name

Harris v. Blockbuster

3.2.2. Background

A Facebook member called Cathryn Elaine Harris filed a category action ailment against Blockbuster which was in partnership with Facebook beacon system in 2008. Blockbuster provides a service called Blockbuster Online which allows clients to lease films online. The major issue was that the film rubric rented was displayed on the clients profile without their mandate. This besides took topographic point even when the user had non logged into Facebook.

3.2.3 Claims

The complainant claimed that this characteristic of the beacon system used by Blockbuster violated the Video Privacy Protection Act, 18 U.S.C. A§ 2710. This Act prohibits the videotape service suppliers from unwraping clients ‘ personal information except a written consent has been obtained from the client at the clip the revelation.

3.2.4 Timeline of Events

Blockbuster tried to maintain the instance out of tribunal by raising an arbitration proviso in its “ Footings and Conditions ” . The papers prohibited its client to register a category action against the company and gives Blockbuster the right to alter its “ Footings and Conditionss ” without advising the client and without the privateness policy limitation.

August 30 2008 -The suspect moved to implement the arbitration proviso by Blockbuster which states in its footings and conditions “ all claims, differences or contentions. . . will be referred to and determined by adhering arbitration. ”

April 15, 2009-Case was filed.

3.2.5 Case Holding

The tribunal concluded that the Footings and Conditionss by Blockbuster were “ unenforceable and illusive ” . The single Arbitration was besides denied.To this consequence, Blockbuster filed an entreaty in which three issues were raised:

“ Whether the territory tribunal erred in sing Plaintiff ‘s claim that the change-in-terms proviso rendered [ Blockbuster ‘s Footings and Conditions ] illusory, because challenges to the contract as a whole, such as this one, must be heard in the first case by an arbiter ” .

“ Whether the change-in-terms proviso does in fact render Blockbuster ‘s Footings and Conditions illusory ” .

“ Whether Plaintiffs ‘ other onslaughts on the Arbitration Clause, which the territory tribunal did non reference, deficiency virtue ” .

4. Decision

Mark Zuckerberg ( Facebook Founder ) appealed to all Facebook users for all the negativenesss caused by the Facebook beacon system before it was wholly shut down.Facebook has of all time since raised more consciousness on privateness steps in web logs, stations etc. These include position points on privateness for the digital age ; bettering transparence around privateness and updates on new privateness tools.This has made users more cognizant of their privateness rights. Besides, a new Facebook service known as Facebook Connect has been said to be evolved from Facebook beacon. This nevertheless has better, easy understood privateness controls, and has been marketed for the general populace as opposed to an advertisement selling scheme tool for concern partnership website clients. This has made it extremely successful.


Was it truly a “ span of privateness ” sing the fact that when people sign up into any societal web, some signifier of privateness must be forfeited?

Did Facebook genuinely imbibe professional moralss in its codification of pattern?

Did Facebook cutely sell its users information for celebrity and income?

Can it be right to state Facebook users are addicted to Facebook regardless of whether their privateness is exposed or non as statistics shows a growing rate of 900 % from 2007 to day of the month ( 50 million in 2007 and 500 million in 2011 ) ?

One of the cases alleges include Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, should this hold been included sing the fact that it did non look as an “ knowing cozenage ” ?

Was it Facebook ‘s mistake or the 44 advertisement web sites ‘ for let go ofing the information by their clients, that is, Facebook users to Facebook for distribution to third party?

Were the organisations who argued that the colony from Lane v. Facebook instance was non sufficient justified to hold said so?

If beacon had non been stopped, will at that place hold been a really negative consequence in the community of Facebook users? For illustration, blackwash, suicide etc as information was distributed to users ‘ “ friends ” all over the Earth.