Deconstructing Facebook Beacon JavaScript

Jay Goldman, Radiant Core, Nov 26, 2007
Commentary by Stephen Downes

Via Simon Willison: "How Facebook's new Beacon service (also known as 'Facebook ruined Christmas') actually works." You want to read this article - the first part of it, at least - in order to understand what the furor is about. Basically, "you create a Page for your brand or product, advertise it through Social Ads to a very targeted market, learn about your success through Insights, and connect to your off-Facebook (off-Book?) service via Beacon." The applications turn Facebook into a giant tracking, advertising and sales engine, which is why its worth $15 billion. The latter part of the article gives some practical advice for consumers and then turns to a very detailed analysis of the Javascript code. The key bit of advice: "don't leave yourself logged into Facebook." And "Facebook still knows that you added a recipe to your recipe box (or bought a book on Amazon, or a coffee table on, even if (you) block the item from being posted to your news feed."
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