Home The Facebook Backlash Has Begun…

The Facebook Backlash Has Begun…

The knee-jerk reaction has begun. Friend after friend after friend is posting the same chain-letter-like status update with simple directions on how to opt out from Facebook’s new sharing capabilities.

It’s spreading like wildfire, but we have to ask – has anyone considered the up side to any of these changes?

The status we’re seeing, along with a number of variations thereof, reads as follows:

As of today, FB has a new privacy setting called “Instant Personalization” that shares data with non-facebook websites and it is automatically set to “Allow.” Go to Account > Privacy Settings > Applications and Websites and uncheck “Allow”, then repost this to your profile.

Is each and every one of these people going and reading the terms of service or the privacy policy to find out what exactly they’re blocking out? We quite doubt it. And while the sharing of your data sounds quite scary, we have to wonder if this reactionary unchecking is causing some who would otherwise benefit to miss out. After all, are we really all that concerned about Pandora knowing, from the moment we load the site, that we’re huge Weezer fans?

The setting in question actually pertains to three partner sites – Docs.com, Pandora and Yelp. Facebook’s explanation of the proposed experience:

We’re working closely with these partners so you can quickly connect with your friends and see relevant content on their sites. These sites personalize your experience using your public Facebook information.

When you arrive on these sites, you’ll see a notification from Facebook at the top of the page.

You can easily opt-out of experiencing this on these sites by “No Thanks” on the blue Facebook notification on the top of partner sites.

The particular setting in question reads “Allow select partners to instantly personalize their features with my public information when I first arrive on their websites.”

Caution is good, but the cautionary tales of people losing their jobs, wives, husbands, whatever, because of Facebook have potentially gone a bit too far. We are a generation constantly terrified by the idea of someone, somewhere, effectively advertising to us by way of glancing at our “data” and knowing whether or not we like country music or alternative 1990s rock. But is it really so terrifying to have annoying banner ads offering deals on some product you might actually enjoy? We wear t-shirts declaring our fandom of certain bands; we paste bumper stickers on our cars professing our ideals; heck, we tell Pandora night and day what type of music we like and don’t – but the second we hear about Facebook sharing info (such as our list of musical interests) we run in fear.

Now, after going and looking at the terms of service, privacy policy, or even just the simple text in the settings page, you may very well decide that you do not want your information to be shared. That’s fine and valid. But at least consider the options first.

Facebook has offered a copy of the new privacy policy, with all of the changes highlighted, that you might want to take a look at before deciding. Privacy is, after all, a personal preference and something that ought to be finely tuned according to your own reservations and judgements, not something that should be determined by a viral tidbit that everyone copies and pastes to their profile.

For an in-depth look at how (and why) you should delete applications from your Facebook account, take a look at Sarah Perez’s take on the subject.

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