Just a few random thoughts and pictures

Want a little privacy? Sorry, not gonna happen…..

Since Anita had done such a nice DT filled post at her blog today, and I’m still feeling grouchy due to my hormone levels, I’m doing a more serious post today about privacy, or the lack of it, at a certain social networking site……….

To be honest, given the massive amount of frankly terrible publicity Facebook continues to receive regarding how it treats it’s members, and their personal information, I’m amazed anyone still uses it. For those of you out there who still do though, please read this as it’s very likely you don’t even know about the new “features” they’ve added, or how they might affect you.

  • Part 1, Instant Personalization.

The EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation) a civil liberties group that focuses on defending users right online, recently commented on Facebook’s new “Instant Personalization” tool. Put simply, what this new tool does is this, whenever you visit one of their partner sites, it gives them ALL your public information instantly, without your consent, so they can personalise their web page to suit your needs. Oh and with their new Connections feature, even more information will become “public”, without your consent (see part 2 below for more on this).

Sounds innocent enough at first glance, but think about it, this means you’re giving all sorts of information about yourself, to a website you may never visit again, and who knows what that site may then do with the information? And like I said there’s no “Do you want to allow” option, it just does it. Scary thought huh?

Ah but, says Facebook, users can opt out of this feature. And yes, you can opt out if you want, but just wait till you try. It’s a complex and confusing system, which even the EFF had to spend literally hours trying to figure out how to use, and they know their stuff when it comes to this kind of thing.

The worst thing, in my opinion, is that you can’t just change a setting at Facebook to opt out of this “feature”. No, you actually have to visit each partner website to opt out of them individually, which means giving them access to your data, just so you can tell them you don’t want them to HAVE access to your data.

Ok, now I’ve freaked you all out and got you running to check your settings, pause and take a breath. This isn’t just a rant, I have helpful stuff too. Here you will find step by step instructions, along with a video, put together by EFF explaining exactly how to opt out of this “feature”.

  • Part 2, Connections.

While you’re there you should also read their latest article about another new idea called “Connections”. It lists some very worrying things that all users need to know, but that Facebook are not bothering to tell you, about what information Connections shares, how it shares it, and how little control you actually have over this etc. The most worrying in my view being this…………

Facebook has removed your ability to restrict its use of this information. The new privacy controls only affect your information’s “Visibility” i.e. whether it’s shown on your profile, not whether it is “publicly available.”

Explaining what “publicly available” means, Facebook writes:

“Such information may, for example, be accessed by everyone on the Internet (including people not logged into Facebook), be indexed by third party search engines, and be imported, exported, distributed, and redistributed by us and others without privacy limitations.”

Yep, you read that correctly. What they’re basically saying, albeit it as quietly as possibly in the hopes no-one hears them, is that they can, and will, do whatever they like with your information.

ok, now I’ve scared the proverbial out of you all, how about something soothing to calm the nerves………….

screen cap from a DW confidential, courtesy of David Tennannt Photos


May 6, 2010 - Posted by | A Bit Of A Rant, Picture Of The Day | , , ,


  1. *thud* Indeed… Grr Facey’s getting worse and worse! I’m seriously inclining to the idea that they’re just an experiment to see how far blatant / sneaky privacy breaches can be taken before people start leaving in droves.

    On the flipside, without Facey’s stalkeriffic help, how will I find otu what my Crush-Of-The-Moment had for breakfast/did in the weekend/looks like when sleeping*???

    *One of these things may actually be more old-fashioned, hiding-in-bushes stalking.

    Comment by Jen | May 6, 2010

  2. did you go read the article? It’s really worrying, and just one more reason why I will NEVER sign up with them.

    How they have the nerve to basically tell you nothing can be private and they’ll do what they like with your info, no matter what you want, is beyond me.

    I’m surprised there hasn’t been some sort of legal challenges on this yet, although it’s early days I suppose.

    Comment by develish1 | May 6, 2010

  3. I use facebook but what I have a problem with are people leaving nasty comments about links or other things people say on my ‘page’- it gets on my nerves because I don’t go negative on-line. Who needs it? The ‘real world’ is bad enough at times.

    And by the way Dev, that picture does who what ills me today. You are a Saint.


    ps thanks for the shout out- I mean, when you have A DT day how can you miss in creating the perfect post?

    Comment by Anita Marie | May 7, 2010

  4. sadly you get those (insert own swear word here) everywhere these days. That’s why I prefer my own personal forum and my blog, as I have control over who gets to comment. Plus, the privacy options are way better.

    As for the shout out, you gotta spread the DT love whenever and however you can right? 🙂

    Comment by develish1 | May 7, 2010

  5. Think you’re right, dev, personal forums (assuming the hoster’s reliable and doesn’t sell your info to everyone / randomly tell people you’re a prohibited site) would be way better. Having said that though, Facey’s the preferred option for me simply because so many people use it. Were more of my mates tech-savvy enough to have blogs etc., I’d ditch Facecrack like the social pariah it deserves to be, but it has the numbers. And the stalker-attraction, as before. That said, I’m a privacy Nazi (sorry, Godwin’s law, I know) and consequently only friends can comment on my wall, see any of my info and my friends are further filtered by those who can and can’t see my events, photos etc. Takes a bit of time but the only time in the last year I had an unwanted wallpost I just deleted it and flamed the perpetrator (who was actually just a drunk, emo friend having a wah). But if I grow up I may regret Facey…

    Comment by Jen | May 7, 2010

  6. well I’m lucky I guess. having worked on a voluntary basis as a moderator in the official forums run by my own personal forums host for well over a year now, I’ve gotten to know him quite well and do trust him, as well as you can trust anyone online.

    He always seems to take any concerns over privacy very seriously, and despite running the operation virtually single handed seems to fix issues very quickly should any occur.

    Facebook on the other hand seems to be taking a very bad attitude to users personal info. As I said in my post, with this new Connections idea, they’ve basically said any info you give will be shared with whoever they want to share it with, and no amount of “friends only” or “private” settings you might try to apply will stop them.

    Apparently, even if you choose to delete info you’ve previously given, they still store it and it’s still provided to search engine, allowing people to find you using info you thought no longer existed.

    I’m no expert when it come to legal matters, but that sure sounds like something a court should be challenging to me.

    Comment by develish1 | May 7, 2010


    But Grr, Facebook

    Seriously, thanks for the heads up, I’ll see what I can do about my settings later.

    Comment by whogal | May 10, 2010

    • you should definitely check out the EFF site, as there’s lots of helpful stuff on there about how to find settings you didn’t even know existed etc.

      Comment by develish1 | May 10, 2010

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