Why You Need to Care About Facebook’s New Open Graph Platform with Social Plugins – The Social Graph that Follows You Everywhere

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Facebook – the site that changes its interface, services, and values almost as often as we change our underwear (hint: daily), has once again announced a major change that affects all Facebook users – and users of other services – in a major way. This week’s announcement is that Facebook is now sharing it’s new “like” system with partners like Microsoft Fuse Docs, Pandora, and Yelp – and any other site that wants to feature the new Facebook social plugins – creating what Facebook calls a “social graph” or “open graph”. This means that when you “like” something on Facebook, that “like” will follow you around to Pandora, Yelp, and Microsoft Fuse Docs – and vice versa. The good news is that you can opt out of it (and we tell you how).

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg made the announcement at Facebook’s third annual “F8” conference. Clearly ripping off Apple, the Steve Jobs wannabe walked out on stage in a black sweatshirt and jeans, to announce the new “launch”. All that was missing was the “Oh, and one more thing” (and the class of Jobs).

Zuckerberg soft-peddled this newest mass invasion of privacy by saying in the announcing blog post that “This next version of Facebook Platform puts people at the center of the web.”

Translation: This next version of Facebook puts what people do on Facebook at the center of our partners’ reach, so it can be used and exploited by them and us.

Or, put another way, this next version of Facebook puts people at the center of the ocean of money we’re trying to capture online.

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But it sounds so much shinier coming from Zuckerberg’s lips: “It lets you shape your experiences online and make them more social. For example, if you like a band on Pandora, that information can become part of the graph so that later if you visit a concert site, the site can tell you when the band you like is coming to your area. The power of the open graph is that it helps to create a smarter, personalized web that gets better with every action taken.”

The power of the open graph is that it makes Facebook a more attractive buy-out candidate, and in the meantime may make them a boatload of money, as partners drool all over themselves to get in on that social graph and the social graph data.

It brings you, says Zuckerberg, and we quote, a future in which, “you can access without having to login again or click to connect.

In other words, if you are logged into Facebook, all kinds of your preferences are shared back and forth between Facebook and partner sites.

As Facebook explains, “When you’re logged in to Facebook, these sites can personalize your experience using your public Facebook information.”

Oh goody.

What Facebook doesn’t put in a blinking, 24 point, bold font as soon as you log in, although it should, is that you have been defaulted in to allowing that for Microsoft Docs, Pandora, and Yelp!

Yes, without them asking you. It’s already all set up, unless and until you opt out!

Sugarcoats Zuckerberg, “For example, now if you’re logged into Facebook and go to Pandora for the first time, it can immediately start playing songs from bands you’ve liked across the web. And as you’re playing music, it can show you friends who also like the same songs as you, and then you can click to see other music they like.”

And it isn’t just Microsoft, Pandora and Yelp – they are just the big-name partners that Facebook is using in their announcement (and to which you have been opted-in without your asking – wasn’t that nice of Facebook to save you the trouble?) Any website can get in on this bonanza, by using any number of Facebook plugins. Just take a look at the Facebook social plugins that are already available:




Explains Facebook about the above Facebook “social plugins”, “Social plugins are simple and secure ways for third parties to include Facebook’s Like button and comment functionality on their websites. These features enable you to share the things you care about on Facebook and with other visitors to that website through the activity feed and recommendations plugins. When you click a Like button, you create a connection, which enables the website to keep you updated through your News Feed and is displayed publicly on your profile.”

Holy TMI, Batman!

Many Facebook users are not pleased with this recent development – which made the F8 seem more like a big FU.

“Hell no. I do not like this,” commented Facebook user Michelle Eddy.

“Do not like. Not at all,” echoed Simon Holt. “This is awful. Be sure to stay logged out all the time unless you’re actually using FB,” advised Brett Cole.

Facebook user Pamela Mann was even more articulate about her response. “I really, really hate this. I’ve updated my privacy settings (again!) and will be logging off facebook for large portions of the day so that I can browse the web with less facebook intrusion. I use facebook to communicate with my friends not the entire world. I guess it’s back to email for everyday online chatting,” said Mann.

Perhaps as telling, the announcement by Zuckerberg garnered fewer than 2000 “likes” on his own system.

So, how to opt out of this privacy nightmare?

Well, first of all, when you next log into your Facebook account, you should be greeted with this graphical announcement at the top of your Facebook page:




Click on the “Learn More”, and you will be taken to this page:




…which tells you this at the bottom:




“Clicking here” brings you to this page:




Note that the “allow” is pre-checked – naughty, naughty!




When you uncheck the check box, Facebook whines “are you sure you want to opt out??”




And, did you catch this?:




So, off we go to block applications that we never added. Before we give you the direct links to the Pandora, Yelp, and MS Docs applications to block them, here is generally how to block applications.

First, though, let’s understand exactly to what you expose yourself by allowing (or not disallowing) applications.

Facebook says:




{Side note – remember the Apple 1984 commercial? Could it be that the entity on the screen was Facebook? That might explain Zuckerberg’s parodic stage performance.}

Anyways, to see a full list of the applications that you currently have allowed (or which have been allowed for you), you’ll want to follow the link we give you below, which will bring you to the page to edit your list of applications.

Note that when you go to that page, it cunningly shows you only the applications you have used recently:




To see the full list of all applications that actually have access to your information, you have to switch the view to the “authorized” view:




When we checked the list in our Facebook account, we found many applications which we most definitely had not authorized – we wonder who did?

And, look who’s there:



Now, we do not have a Microsoft Fuse Docs account, nor a Yelp account. But we do have a Pandora account. So, the fact that Pandora showed up in our ‘authorized’ applications – but Docs and Yelp did not – suggests a couple of things. One, that Facebook has only pre-authorized applications for sites at which you have an account, and two, that Facebook knows whether or not you have an account at those locations.

Ok, here is the link to edit all of your applications – don’t forget to switch the view to “authorized”:

Click here to remove Facebook applications from your ‘authorized’ list.

And here are the links to directly block the applications from Microsoft Fuse Docs, Pandora, and Yelp:

Block the Microsoft Fuse Docs Facebook social graph application.

Block the Yelp Facebook social graph application.

Block the Pandora Facebook social graph application.

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4 thoughts on “Why You Need to Care About Facebook’s New Open Graph Platform with Social Plugins – The Social Graph that Follows You Everywhere

  1. I am getting this message when I click the FB icon to share action taken on some of my charitable websites: “User opted out of platform: The action attempted is disallowed, because the user has opted out of Facebook platform.”
    WHY? What can I do about it?

  2. Why do I keep getting “User opted out of platform: The action attempted is disallowed, because the user has opted out of Facebook platform.” on my account? I do not use facebook on my tablet, and I don’t own a phone.I use PC only.

  3. I keep on reading about this sort of thing in the last couple of days, and you’ve shown me stuff that I *still* didn’t know (re the Applications).

    Thank you so much.

  4. Hi Anne,
    I really like the service that Facebook offers. I was reluctant to join at first. I didn’t want to jump on the latest bandwagon. In the years that I have been using Facebook I have been able to re-unite with old schoolfriends and co-workers, and I’ve also been able to connect with people from far flung corners of the world. But I’m getting rather fed-up with these intrusions into our privacy. I’m sure these features could be of benefit, but we need to be better informed, and we should have the option of opting in rather than having these things foisted upon us.

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