I've been quietly watching all the bouncing up and down over Facebook and the Beacon incident. This is, of course, a reminder about just how little anonymity there is once you make that first step of plugging your computer into the Internet. None of these issues are new. The credit card companies have, for years, been the center of all that is you. Purchase information, returns, credit limits, spending habits, etc, etc. Tivo knows a ton about your TV habits and by watching what you skip, etc, can infer things about your lifestyle and interests. Google probably knows more about you then any entity out there.
We have bookends when it comes to these issues. Jeremy Wright, the CEO of b5, deleted his Facebook account because he thinks the whole thing is creepy. Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook's CEO, believes that the Beacon information is an extension of the news feed that people check a zillion times a day.
The core phreaking out issue was around implementation. Was in opt in or opt out or double secret probation, etc. That is a solvable problem, oops, tweak the plan, etc.
The larger issue and concern for me is the piling on from Bloggers and questionable Political Action Groups when it comes to pounding on Mark Zukerberg. I turn fifty in 22 days so I can clearly say Mark is a kid. He is going to make lots of mistakes and he will continue to learn and grow. Focusing in on him and how he personally handed it, dissecting his blog posts, etc, is just silly. Many of the blog posts, especially from the "A" list types, have that twinge of arrogance and smugness which is normally seen when the business of business turns into the blood sport of watching somebody fail.
We need to use care in beating up Zuckerberg and Facebook in general because we want these folks to push the limits of finding new ideas and trying to make sense out of all the data flowing everywhere. Try it and get some reactions, adjust, find the happy center, rinse and repeat. That's what Facebook should be doing and all the users and give feedback about the business. If they go off sides, it will get corrected, it always does. If they do really bad things, people vote with the mouse clicks. Just ask MySpace or AOL's GeoCities. People vote and have no problem moving.
On the privacy world, I've been clear with the companies I have an interest in. Use care. If you get somebody's email address simply ask permission to have a conversation with them. A shocking number of people will say yes. Then be relevant, respect the customer's time and focus on the intention(s) of the customer. People want to be in control of their own data and information. Respect that and people will listen and, hopefully, respond positively.
Permission marketing is not a fad, it works.
Piling on and proving you can write great prose to dump on a 24 year old kid isn't particularly helpful.