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Facebook close to ending snooping case

Class action suit brings home the Beacon

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Facebook is a step closer to ending the class action suit brought by users angry at being opted in to the creepy adware service Beacon.

The system worked by watching what you bought on affiliated websites and then displaying this on your profile page for your friends and family to see. Not so good if you'd been busy buying porn DVDs and your Mum went online to check your profile page.

Even worse, the service automatically assumed that everyone opted in - which led to predictable uproar. After a month the service was withdrawn and chief executive Mark Zuckerberg apologised.

Facebook has now agreed to pay $9.5m to set up a foundation to promote online privacy and pay all legal fees. The settlement will head off a long and expensive court case

A court hearing in February 2010 should finally end the case. An outline of the agreement will now be published in newspapers, and on Facebook, to make sure anyone who visited a Beacon affiliate website between 6 November 2007 and September 2009 is happy. There are pdfs of the proposed settlement available at ZDNet from this page.

Facebook is torn between its users' - often wrong - belief that information posted on the site is private and the desire to make money by handing parts of that information over to marketeers and advertisers. ®

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