Facebook’s new offerings

April 22, 2010 by
Filed under: Uncategorized 

This morning I logged onto Facebook and found a message up there at the top of the page. This message was telling me that I can connect with my friends on my favourite websites. Ooh, I thought, lucky me.

Right there in the box is a link that I can click on in order to learn more, and understand my privacy. So I clicked. I learnt that I can expect to see a “Like” button on various sites that I can click on to share the site with my friends. The site gets no information about me. This can be quite useful to people who like to post links to sites they think other people might like to see and I can’t see any privacy issues here.

The other thing they mention is something about partner sites, including Microsoft Docs. From what I can glean, this is to be a service that competes with Google Docs. You can create documents and share them with your Facebook friends in much the same way that you share photos. So where’s the privacy issue? It says on the Facebook site, “You can easily opt-out of experiencing this on these sites by clicking here or clicking “No Thanks” on the blue Facebook notification on the top of partner sites”. So far so good. But, it goes on: “If you opt-out, your public Facebook information can still be shared by your friends to these partner sites unless you block the application.” What does this mean? What is “the application”?

I did some digging and found out that I can block the Facebook application, Docs. I didn’t install it. Why should I have to block it in order to prevent it from getting information from me?

I think there are three things to note here:

  1. This is actually normal Facebook app behaviour. They all try to get information about our friends from us.  You should check how much of your profile is public, because you have no control over the apps your friends install.
  2. I don’t like the opt out option. Surely it should be opt in? Shouldn’t it always be opt in?
  3. How long before someone creates a personal doc and shares it with the world? And when they do, is it their fault for not reading the manual properly?

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