In a flashback to Facebook's early days, the U.S. Supreme Court Monday declined to review the settlement of a lawsuit against the social network over an ill-fated advertising program called Beacon, which was abandoned after users complained it violated their privacy.
The program — one of the first of Facebook's ongoing conflicts over user privacy — launched in November 2007. Participating companies would notify Facebook when a logged-in member bought something on one of their websites. In a privacy gaffe that seems almost quaint compared to how widely user information is shared today, Facebook then sent a message to the member's friends notifying them that someone they knew just made a purchase.
Facebook's members began to complain that the notices were embarrassing or tipped off their friends about surprise gifts. And they said that opting out of Beacon was made intentionally difficult. In September 2009, after making adjustments to the program, Facebook shut it down.