Posted in The Wired Mom
May 9, 2010

Dear Dad, Sorry I introduced you to Facebook

Dear Dad,

I’m sorry I introduced you to Facebook. No, I don’t mean it like that! While I’ve heard plenty of horror stories about family members who overshare, post embarrasing photos, you’ve been wonderful. Honestly, it isn’t you at all.

It’s Facebook. When I recommended that you join Facebook, it was because it was the top ranked social network. True, they did have a history of changing interfaces, but those are easy to get used to. True, they did say that anything you uploaded on Facebook would be their property for all time- but a lot of people complained, and they rolled that change back.

I thought they’d learn, but clearly Mark Zuckerberg hasn’t. He’s stated openly that he believes that privacy isn’t the way of the future. Even as they introduced privacy controls to allow users to decide who sees what statuses, they sneakily reset everyone’s privacy controls to default to allowing Everyone to see what you post.

I’m not sure if you saw the stories, or noticed Facebook touting their new Instant Personalization Pilot Program. It’s in addition to the nearly ubiquitous Facebook Connect buttons that let you use your Facebook log-in to post to any number of news/entertainment websites. No, this new Instant Personalization Pilot lets you share your personal information with other websites.

They claim that you can use it to find contacts, see content for your area… but what it really does is let those websites use your personal information to target their advertising. And of course, it lets Facebook better target it’s advertising to you. It’s all about money. Worst of all, Facebook set it up so that you have to opt out of this program. And after whining from users who realized that this included information about your friends, Facebook let you control what information your friends have access to. Again, something you have to opt out of.

I’m all for the internet being an open place. A place to share ideas, to connect. But at the same time, I’d like to be able to control how much of my information people get. I’m sure you would, too. So, I’m sorry. Hopefully they straighten up their act- I know that privacy groups are calling for Facebook’s actions to be investigated. But if they don’t, I’ll introduce you to Twitter. While everything’s automatically public, at least you know right off the bat that everyone can see what you’re tweeting.


PS If you want to make sure that your information is still private, just click on the Account Button at the top of the page, then Privacy Settings >> Applications and Websites. Uncheck the box under the option for Instant Personalization Pilot Program to keep your information from being used by other websites. And to keep your friends from being able to send out your info, uncheck all the boxes under What your friends can share about you.
PPS Also, make sure you see what you’re sharing under Privacy Settings and then, Personal Information and Posts and Contact Information. You might be surprised how much you’re sharing.
PPS Any time you see Facebook mention a new feature, double check your privacy settings!

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