Friday, April 23, 2010

Privacy and Facebook’s New Instant Personalization

Facebook’s New Instant Personalization feature is a powerful new tool that can certainly improve your online experience if you use it wisely, but it presents some major privacy issues which most of us don't even think about. Also, Facebook has decided to activate for everyone by default, meaning you must OPT OUT if you don't want to share your online activities with your friends and "partner sites" (ie. strangers) alike.

What's to be worried about? Here are a couple examples people cite:

"Like" a movie on IMDB, and all of your friends will get updates to that effect. For that matter, every time you look at a movie on IMDB, you will see a list of friends who have "liked" that page. It is a powerful tool, but my bet is most Facebook users will have no idea where, when, or how their Likes will show up on the Web. Or for how long. [via "Facebook: Privacy Enemy Number One?"]


[For] example, if you sign-on to Pandora ... the site could automatically dip into your Facebook account. ... Your co-workers and other professional contacts will soon be privy to your late-night Miley Cyrus jam sessions. [via Facebook privacy warning; Instant Personalization at F8]

For me, the thing to remember is that Facebook is first and foremost a business. Everything they do is aimed at making them more money. And information about their users (ie. you and me) is a valuable commodity. When they implement new "features," they do it in order to increase profit, not to improve your online experience. Just keep that in mind as you use the site.

Some additional interesting links about Facebook and privacy:


Sophos's recommendations for Facebook settings

Facebook Planning To Give Away Your Data To “Partners”

10 Privacy Settings Every Facebook User Should Know

Facebook’s Instant Personalization Is the Real Privacy Hairball

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