Add this to the garbage in my Facebook news feed: I logged in this morning to find a "sponsored poll" about the Beacon advertising program. The poll didn't say who sponsored it, but I suspect it was Facebook itself. Freaked out by the reaction to Beacon ads, which report purchases and other actions taken on other websites to your Facebook friends, Facebook is trying to find its way through the fiasco. (Ryann from Facebook customer support writes to say, "Polls can be purchased by third parties, and we cannot give away any information on who purchased the poll. I apologize for any inconvenience that may cause.")
Whether or not Facebook sponsored the poll, which appeared on the site's San Francisco network today, executives at the social network should pay attention to the results. It asks whether users know what Facebook Beacon even is. If enough people answered "yes," in theory, CEO Mark Zuckerberg can point to responses and say "See, we don't need an opt-in policy. Our users already know what they're getting into." Well Zuck, so much for that theory. To date, 67 percent of respondents have not even the glimmering of a clue about Beacon — let alone that it broadcasts their shopping history to friends and frenemies alike. For Zuckerberg & Co., users' ignorance is not bliss.