Beacon, launched with much fanfare in November 2007, quickly became one of Facebook's biggest nightmares. Intended as a key piece of Facebook's "social ads" strategy, Beacon was designed to broadcast back to their friends the actions that Facebook members took on participating Web sites.
The idea was that these notifications would act as a new form of "social" advertising, because they amount to endorsements of products made by trusted friends.
Unfortunately, Facebook members found Beacon complicated to understand, as well as intrusive and stealthy. Many people were horrified to find out that their friends were being informed of actions, like purchases, they had undertaken in other Web sites.
Security experts and privacy advocates soon joined the chorus of critics. Although Facebook modified Beacon several times, it never took off and has been languishing in obscurity.
Despite the Beacon fiasco, Facebook executives regularly say the advertising business of the privately-held company is solid and growing. In addition to offering traditional online ads like banners and pay-per-click ads, Facebook has continued developing social ads and marketing vehicles, like its , which organizations can use to promote their brands and products.