They had to go there, didn't they?
Facebook's $15B valuation needed some real revenue behind it, and Beacon looked like one sure ticket.
Smart marketers like Coke wisely stepped out of the initial effort when they learned the process was opt-out rather than opt-in, and they equally wisely noted that they aren't dropping out of the effort entirely, because the program (properly gated to allow consumer choice in what they share or don't) is pretty darn compelling.
The real lesson from the Beacon' flap Scott Karp nails in his recent piece over at Publishing 2.0:
"Traditionally what happens is a technology company matures and becomes vulnerable to an upstart innovator leap-frogging them in the marketplace...[but] Facebook is too easily to replicate. It only has one real asset — people. What Facebook critics see is not the risk that another social networking company can do a better job with the technology — it’s that one could do a better job with the people.
The next great internet company will not be one that makes a breakthrough with technology — it will be one that makes a breakthrough with people."