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Published on October 2nd, 2011 | by Gerald Hensel

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The New Facebook. A Morning with my updated Privacy Settings.




One week after f8 – and I am still shocked of the general public acceptance of Facebook’s ‘frictionless sharing’ – and that as a marketing guy. I should actually be sitting on the bridge of Planet Death Star watching all you pathetic Earthlings getting data-sucked now. But as ususal – nobody cares how much ownership over our data we have just lost.

I started my own little exploration through my ‘new’ Facebook privacy settings (No 2 is only relevant for you if you have the new FB profile, No 1 is not).

Frictionless sharing – from ‘Public by default’ to ‘Private does not exist anymore’

So whoever talks about privacy – he usually belongs either to the school ‘Full Privacy by default’ or ‘Public by default’. Jeff Jarvis for example does not get tired to explain how crucial it is that we build our world by virtually defining, tagging, constructing objects and interactions. And that is why we need to be Public by default. In other words: We sign out if we do not want to transmit stuff instead of i.e. signing in to getting public with certain status updates.

But: Believing in a free web society in which everyone collaboratively constructs a virtual world is as realistic as believing in free globalized markets: it is a fiction that is constantly corrupted by the interest of a few. And Facebook has just presented some of their concepts for our brave new world – a world in which you can not sign out of being Public anymore. Simply because it is too complicated.

Unfortunately Facebook makes it almost impossible to sign out of the new ‘frictionless sharing‘. Example: I have 314 apps installed (Yes, 314 – as I said, I am an online marketing guy).

Bildschirmfoto 2011 10 02 um 14.10.25 The New Facebook. A Morning with my updated Privacy Settings.

All of these apps do certain things. Maybe I have signed up to Nike+ on Facebook, or Slideshare, or twitter…there are many reasons why I may have installed one of them a while ago. And yes, I have approved most of them to pull certain data: my birthday, my profile pic, or other information from my profile.

But I did approve anything like ‘Yes, dear third party software – you can now post in my name’. But exactly this is a new setting in your Facebook profile since last week. And it is pre-approved by default.

Bildschirmfoto 2011 10 02 um 14.18.31 The New Facebook. A Morning with my updated Privacy Settings.

Sharing the songs I listen to may be annoying to one or the other. But Facebook has just allowed 314 applications to post in my name whatever these pieces of software want to share.

There must be a button to turn this function off for all of them at once, right?

Nope.

Facebook allows to disapprove this propery. But you cannot disapprove this function for all 314 apps at once. Facebook forces you to click through all 314 apps individually to remove this.

eWeek claims that this is no problem. Because you can easily change the settings for what your friends see

Facebook pointed out that people who subscribe to its social applications will have complete control over whether they’re info is shared or not.

That is to say, the automatic sharing is on by default in the social apps, but Facebook allows users to control whether their app stories are seen by their friends at all times.

This is like walking around with a black box that constantly documents and transfers your data while its manufacturer asks you not to worry as it does not tell any of your friends.It is  not a proper response to the basic problem. The problem is not just what my friends see or what I actively share with the world. The problem is that currently 314 Facebook applications are allowed to document my life and per default are allowed to act in my name. What the F, Facebook?

Facebook is your self-proclaimed ‘Life Archiver’ now. Oh…and everyone can google your life currently

If you already have Facebook’s timeline (= your Facebook life) I can probably google it. Yes, being completely transparent for search engines is also approved by default. To stop this go to your Privacy Settings > Public Search and uncheck the checkbox. At least this is quite a simple operation. They don’t really seem to care whether your timeline is visible to me via google or not icon wink The New Facebook. A Morning with my updated Privacy Settings.

Bildschirmfoto 2011 10 02 um 13.55.50 The New Facebook. A Morning with my updated Privacy Settings.I am sure there are quite a lot of Privacy issues that I did not even stumble across. The ones I just mentioned are the most obvious ones for me – and also the most impactful.

I am serious: Last week’s updates really have made me think a lot more about Facebook, Privacy, and what we are willing to accept. Or in other words: a lot of doubt creeps in.

My personal perception is – Facebook has crossed the line and may in the near future become something that I don’t want to support anymore. Our apathy make it easy for such a powerful digital player to set the agenda. And we are willing to accept more and more. If Facebook announces sensors in two years that automatically check us in to a night club, or a shop – we will accept it.

Questions? Comments? Do you want to flag other Facebook Privacy issues after the latest update? Leave a comment.


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  • Chris

    Thanks for pointing this out! I’ve gone through my apps and found several instances where apps were allowed to post in my name. A couple were apps like Friendly and TweetDeck which need this to achieve functionality but on the other apps I switched this feature off.

    As I went through each app, I noticed a few that have full access to my pictures and videos. For example ‘TripAdvisor – Cities I’ve visited’ and surprisingly YouTube!?!? Would TripAdvisor like to access to my photos, which are tagged with geolocation information, so that they can produce some type of travel guide for others?? No idea what exactly why either app would want my photos and vids, but I know I don’t want anyone to have them without asking me first. Otherwise I would have made the photos public in the first place!

  • Anonymous

    Well…I mean first and foremost you have approved most of the app’s functionalities. So I guess in the future most of us will read more precisely once the app approval dialogue pops up.

  • Anonymous

    I don’t have the new timeline yet, but something is definitely wrong when the power users and online marketing guys start to feel worried about changes to Facebook’s privacy settings and omnipresence on the web. The scary thing, though, is that it won’t matter much. The millions of normal users won’t notice or even care about it. So my “friends” see what songs I listen to? – So what, if they don’t care about it they should simply skip that posting!

    I might like to share my latest running track or favorite tune every once in a while myself – but because I consciously make that decision and want to share this kind of information. Not because several interconnected websites have made that decision for me and make it unnecessarily difficult or almost impossible to opt out of the automatic sharing without loosing some features. 
    I don’t know yet, but I might be on a slow track on my way out of Facebook…

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