Facebook’s New “Instant Personalization” Privacy Invader

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In case you have been missing having to tear your hair out over Facebook’s privacy settings and policies, fear not, because with Facebook’s new “Instant Personalization” setting, you can tear away. Six months ago we reported on Facebook’s then-new ‘open graph’ with “social plugins”, or ‘social graph’, that followed you around to sites like Pandora and Yelp.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg explained the open graph like this: “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.”

This appears to have evolved into, or spawned, Facebook’s “Instant Personalization” where, explains Facebook, the goal is “to give you a great social and personalized experience with every application and website you use.”

Think that’s frightening? Facebook goes on to say that “We’ve worked with a select set of partners to personalize your experience as soon as you arrive on their sites.”

Of course, they go on to reassure you that these partner sites “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.”

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But ooh! Guess what? Some Facebook users are reporting that these “Instant Personalization” privacy settings have been defaulted to ‘on’. (We hasten to add that others report that they were set to “off” when they checked, and indeed that was the case for our own settings. But you should definitely check and see whether your Instant Personalization settings are set to ‘on’ or ‘off’.)

Here is how to check on your Instant Personalization setting, and how to turn it off (or on):

First, log into your Facebook account, and click on the “Account” drop-down menu in the upper right. In that menu select “Privacy Settings”:



This will take you to the main privacy settings page on Facebook. At the very bottom of that page, click on “edit your settings” under the “Applications and Websites” section:




Towards the bottom of that next page, you will see the link to edit your Instant Personalization settings:




Once you click on that link, you will be taken to the Instant Personalization settings screen. This involves just one setting – it’s either on (‘enabled’) or off (not enabled). In the screenshot below, the setting is enabled:




Uncheck that check box to turn off Instant Personalization:




Facebook clearly wants you to leave Instant Personalization enabled (no doubt the more Facebook users who leave Instant Personalization enabled, the more money Facebook makes from their Instant Personalization partners).

When you uncheck the Instant Personalization settings to disable it, Facebook throws up a pop-up asking “Are you sure?” and reminding you that letting their partner sites spy on you across Facebook “gives you a richer, more connected experience as you browse the web,”, as if wording it like that downplays the fact that Facebook is following you across the web and their partners are mining what you do on Facebook!



You may also be treated to this pop-up video explaining why you should love Instant Personalization, which features the only typo we have ever seen from Facebook – they must be getting a bit sloppy:




If you’ve read this far, you probably have an opinion about Facebook’s Instant Personalization – so, what is that opinion?

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One thought on “Facebook’s New “Instant Personalization” Privacy Invader

  1. Facebooks lack of concern for their clients privacy is just short of criminal. I don;t want my info spread all ove the net, thus I don’t give them any. I’ve seen too many cases where it has led to criminal activities.

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