Facebook is shutting down its much-maligned Beacon marketing program, which launched nearly two years ago amid fanfare only to generate a storm of privacy complaints over the tracking of user activities at partner web sites, reports the Associated Press. Facebook agreed to end Beacon and create a foundation to promote online privacy, safety, and security as part of a $9.5 million settlement in a lawsuit over the program. A federal judge in San Jose, Calif., still must approve the terms. Meanwhile, Facebook is teaming up with the Nielsen Co. to help advertisers grab the attention of the hordes that are spending more of their time at the internet hangout. Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s chief operating officer, is expected to unveil the new marketing program, called "Nielsen BrandLift," at an advertising conference Sept. 22 in New York. Facebook thought the Beacon marketing program would help users keep their friends better informed about their interests, while also serving as "trusted referrals" that would help drive more sales to the participating sites. Sprinkled in with status updates and photos were alerts on what items their friends had bought or reviewed. After an uproar, Palo Alto, Calif.-based Facebook ultimately let users turn Beacon off, and CEO Mark Zuckerberg publicly apologized for it. The service never really caught on, though, and Facebook agreed to end it as part of the proposed settlement…

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