Here’s why I’m selectively changing a lot of my information in Facebook – faking my demographic details and so forth – Facebook wants so desperately to make a dollar off of my data, they have become skeevy, and untrustworthy. I’m old enough that there isn’t too much that is embarrassing in my Facebook profile, but I don’t every corporation in America to have access to my information without my permission1
The chorus of pro-privacy, anti-Facebook bloggers is getting louder. Facebook wants to keep track of everything you “like” — all over the Web and even in the real world. McDonald’s has signed on as Facebook’s first geolocation partner. Whatever that means. The Observer has a deeper relationship with my Facebook page than my best friend. Today I’m deactivating my account. Here’s why.
Then I stumbled upon a list of the various third-party groups that have access to my account. In all, there were 32, including the makers of “Which Jane Austen heroine are you?” (I’m Fanny Price), The Awl, a snarky, high-brow commentary site, and Business Insider. The latter two I didn’t recall approving. The media sites, I discovered, were installed automatically when I browsed their websites while logged in to Facebook. Jane Austen, I’m afraid, I must take responsibility for. Reports are unclear as to what information applications can pull from your account. Some warn that developers have broad access and do not distinguish between what you mark as public and private, and some quizzes even get access to friends’ information.
Considering Facebook’s track record of shifting privacy settings, which the Electronic Frontier Foundation wraps up here, and you can get a visual sense of here, it seems pretty much guaranteed that user control over personal information will only get weaker. At the same time, Facebook is collecting new data based on user browsing habits across the Web. Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg recently unveiled Facebook’s “Connect,” a tool integrated with sites across the Web so users can “like” everything from articles on major news sites such as The Washington Post, to items for sale on retailer sites. Those connections are public, and if you don’t like it, Facebook has this advice to offer: “If you are uncomfortable with the connection being publicly available, you should consider removing (or not making) the connection.”
At the same conference, Zuckerberg also announced that the company will let third parties store information longer (previously, outside developers could store user information for no longer than 24 hours). So not only do we have to worry about Facebook’s policy; we also have to worry about the huge ecosystem of parties that hold Facebook data.
(click to continue reading Farewell, Facebook | The American Prospect.)
One could just delete one’s Facebook account, or take the guerrilla warfare route, and make lots of false data points. The latter option sounds more fun, actually.
Senator Al Franken of all people, with the help of The Consumerist, has published some detailed instructions on how to modify your Facebook privacy settings, which at the very least you should glance at.Footnotes:
- such as, if I purchase a new Nikon, I’ve given Nikon permission to update their records of me, and so on. McDonald’s on the other hand, shouldn’t have any information about me as I haven’t stepped into one of their restaurants in decades [↩]