Just the facts - Facebook privacy changes, May, 2010

Facebook privacy facts: I was thinking about writing an article on the "facts" behind the new Facebook privacy changes, as many people seem rightfully upset by them, but few seem to know the actual Facebook privacy facts.

Five facts about your Facebook privacy settings

The best, short article I've found that covers some of the "facts" about the Facebook privacy changes is this article on MacWorld.com. It doesn't cover everything, but it does discuss:

  • The Facebook "Like" button
  • Facebook "instant personalization" features ("How did that website know what music I like?")
  • Facebook privacy and your Application settings
  • Facebook privacy, and what your friends can share about you
  • Facebook privacy and search results
  • Facebook privacy and photo albums

I'd like to say more here, but again, that short article is well-written and covers these topics fairly well.

Facebook privacy and "Connections" facts

That article is a good start, but it doesn't get into the facts about the topic of Facebook "Connections", which is the area that really blew my mind.

The best article I've been able to find on the facts about Facebook Connections is this article from the Electronic Frontier Foundation. This article covers these topics:

  • Facebook will not let you share any of this information without using Connections. (You cannot opt-out of Connections. If you refuse to play ball, Facebook will remove all unlinked information from your profile.)
  • Facebook will not respect your old privacy settings in this transition.
  • Facebook has removed your ability to restrict its use of this information.
  • Facebook sometimes creates a Connection when you "Like" something.
  • Your posts may show up on a Connection page even if you do not opt in to the Connection.

With regards to that first bullet point, I have to add that even the word "delete" is not correct. There are many complaints that Facebook doesn't actually delete your information; in fact, they just seem to be hiding it from you, and their rationale for doing this seems to be so they can share your information with advertisers.

Facebook privacy facts (May, 2010) and non-geeks

My major concern about the new Facebook privacy changes is really for all the non-geek people out there who have no idea what information they are now publicly sharing. Several of my friends have posted those "I hate my boss" entries, and I wonder where those posts will end up, especially if a friend "likes" that post?