Dan Gowans My personal thoughts and mindless ramblings

Facebook Instant Personalization, yet another scary privacy setting

01.29.2011 · Posted in Software

Facebook has just enabled a new feature to expose your personal information where you wouldn’t expect. Searching the web. It’s called Instant Personalization, and in my eyes, it’s worth disabling for sure.

What is Instant Personalization? According to Facebook:

Our goal is to give you a great social and personalized experience with every app and website you use. We’ve worked with a select set of partners to personalize your experience as soon as you arrive on their sites.

These partner sites (currently limited to Bing, TripAdvisor, Clicker, Rotten Tomatoes, Docs, Pandora, Yelp, and Scribd), can only access the information and content you’ve already made available to everyone. All our partners are required to respect your information and we’ve worked closely with them to make sure they do.

The demo video highlights the Rotten Tomatoes tie-in, and makes the feature look kind of fun.  Rotten Tomatoes is a movie review website, so by tying in Facebook, you can share the movies you have seen, and what you rate them.  Not too bad.

The scariest tie-in they don’t get into is Bing, the default search engine in Internet Explorer.  I use Google, so I’m not worried about this, but imagine all of your web searches shared with your friends.  I’m sure you only search for things you want your parents, your family, and all your friends knowing about.  Right?

According to Facebook, there is a notification on each participating site to “opt-in” to the service on the site itself.  However, there is a way to supposedly disable the feature on all participating websites.

The disable link is quite buried.  At the top of Facebook, click “Account”, then “Privacy Settings”.  Scroll to the bottom of the page.  Under “Apps and Settings”, click “Edit Your Settings”.  Next to “Instant Personalization”, click “Edit Settings”.  Close the popup video that tells you how great the feature is.  Scroll to the bottom of the page, and uncheck the box.

While you’re in there, clean up some of the other privacy settings.  Honestly, if my family and friends didn’t use Facebook so heavily to share information, I would avoid this site like the plague.

Update:

Looks like this feature has been around since April of last year.  Ugh.  Here are some articles about the specifics of how Facebook is integrate into these websites.

One Response to “Facebook Instant Personalization, yet another scary privacy setting”

  1. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Cyndy Sandor, Zenergo. Zenergo said: Why Facebook's Instant Personalization is Very Scary http://dangowans.com/2011/01/facebook-instant-personalization/ [...]

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