April 23, 2010
Facebook's New Social Plug-Ins
Originally posted at Facebook.
I know you'll see the Social Plug-Ins (i.e., LIKE buttons outside of Facebook) that Facebook is now offering as a cool new feature. "Neat! I'm on your IMDb page and there's a Facebook LIKE button. I'll click it, because I like you!"
Noooooooo. Step away from the mouse. Read this. And then decide.
First: I am no conspiracy theorist. Not by a longshot. I am not paranoid. When people get all up in arms about websites sharing their personal information, I want to smack them because they're flying into a panic about information THEY have provided being shared, and that just means they don't read the flippin' TOS before THINKING about telling the world they love yoga or dogs or chocolate. So, when you read my words, know I'm not into fear mongering. In fact, I hate that. I don't want to stir up a panic. I just want to be sure folks KNOW what they're doing before they give away the keys to the castle.
Second: I am a PhD dropout, all but dissertation, in Instructional Technology. I spent years in service of combating technophobia. I have a passion for reading the nitty-gritty details and distilling things that other folks gloss over (or don't even read, before clicking AGREE) into one simple, bottom line. So, that's what I'm going to try and do here.
Now--for some context--here are a few articles written by others about the Facebook LIKE button and what it means to us, since Facebook won't tell us, simply. (Wait, why won't Facebook do that? Oh, because last month, every FB user got an update in their inbox letting them know that FB would no longer be sending out changes to TOS. That if we WANTED to be kept abreast of changes that affected our terms in using this site, we would have to become a fan of the FB Site Governance Page http://facebook.com/fbsitegovernance and seek out the updates for ourselves. They rolled out THAT change before rolling out THESE changes, because they didn't want THESE changes so very well-publicized while still in the development phase. With good reason. They're creepy.)
So, we've all opted in to this LIKE thing (Social Plug-Ins) just by being on Facebook. We don't get the option of saying no up front. We're in it, and we have to go through a few not-uncomplicated steps to get OUT of this (and we have to use militant observation of future additions to the approved plug-ins area of our privacy settings to be sure we turn OFF the new ones Facebook will add regularly, before they take our info and give it out all over the web).
Let me break this down.
You see someone's IMDb page and there's a Facebook LIKE button on this non-Facebook site (same is true for Pandora and Yelp, etc., as of now). You say, "I like you. I'll click LIKE."
You've just given Facebook permission to share all of YOUR information AND ALL OF YOUR FRIENDS' DATA to not just IMDb, but Pandora, and Yelp, and any future site with whom Facebook contracts the LIKE button placement.
Here's how to block Social Plug-Ins, right now:
Go to your Account (top right of any page) --> Privacy Settings --> Applications and Websites --> Instant Personalization --> Uncheck "Allow..." --> Confirm.
That's the first step.
To block what your friends can share about you, go to Privacy Settings --> Applications and Websites --> What your friends can share about you, and uncheck EVERYTHING.
That's the second step.
Next, you have to INDIVIDUALLY block the apps that Facebook whitelists for Social Plug-Ins EVEN if you have disallowed this setting.
AND, any time you slip up and click LIKE on an outside site, you've just RE-ALLOWED Facebook to share all of your--and your friends'--info, all over the web. Yup. Every time. The only way your friends can't share your info through THEIR social plug-ins is to BLOCK the app, and then to NOT slip up and hit LIKE outside of Facebook, which would reverse your previous setting automatically.
So, how to block the individual apps that Facebook has whitelisted so far (and remember, you'll have to check back and keep doing this, as new sites will be added regularly). Go here: http://www.facebook.com/help/?faq=17105 -- Each of the currently authorized partner sites is listed. Open each of their pages (fan pages--see why Facebook will NEVER turn off the nonstop spamming of fan page "become a fan" or, now, "like this" requests at Facebook for this stuff? It's advertiser driven and they will not turn off an advertiser's ability to get their page in front of you again and again and again) and click Block Application. Those apps will now show up in your blocked applications list (which I highly recommend you update, regularly, as there may be some fun meme you wanted to be a part of, but now you're over it and your information is still being fed through to them, their partners, their customers, all of it, per TOS to which YOU agreed--so don't complain, just BLOCK that stuff).
To keep an eye on that list, go to Privacy Settings --> Applications and Websites --> What you share, click LEARN MORE, click the "this page" link at the bottom of that page, and then go through EVERY area of that page by using the drop-down menu at the top right of the table (default stop: Recently Used) and see what you are letting Facebook share about you, EVERYWHERE. Any you don't like? FIRST choose Edit Settings for each app, then uncheck and turn to "me only" on anything that rubs you the wrong way, save those settings, and then click the X in the table to kill it off altogether. But definitely change the settings to "locked down" first, because if you delete while OPEN, your info is still theirs.
Got all that?
Lemmeknow if you have questions. And please, feel free to share this all over FB. :) I've made it visible to EVERYONE (even though the rest of my FB page is locked down to friends only), so you can pass it along.
Yes, I love Facebook and I'm grateful to them for existing and allowing me to connect with people I otherwise could never see on a regular basis, and to connect more deeply with people I may never get to know so well otherwise. I love it. I do. But this latest surrender of our information--without full disclosure--is icky. Plain and simple. ICKY. So, I recommend going with a conservative approach to how we're letting our info be used FIRST and then slowly begin to let some info out, when we learn what of this new level of access is good for us and what is bad, bad, bad.
Thanks for reading! Happy Facebooking! :)
3:17pm 4/23/10 -- Update from Nicholas Sayaan: You may also find this interesting, re: fb allowing apps to cache personal data forever ever (forever ever?), forever ever. http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/how_to_delete_facebook_applications_and_why_you_should.php Thanks, Nick!
4pm-ish 4/23/10 -- Update from BenWhitehair: RT @Twitter_Tips: Your Mom's Guide to Those Facebook Changes, and How to Block Them: http://gigaom.com/2010/04/22/your-moms-guide-to-those-facebook-changes-and-how-to-block-them Thanks, Ben!
5:15pm 4/23/10 -- Update from Marci Liroff: More FB privacy shite. http://gawker.com/5522433/how-to-restore-your-privacy-on-facebook Thanks, Marci!
11:50am 4/24/10 -- Update from Alexis Adair via Jana Perrone DeLuna "This dovetails nicely with Bonnie's note. I found it especially interesting that insurance companies are taking notice. If they're raising premiums, it means there's a solid, proven, numerical correlation. Combine this with the current FB un-privacy changes, and it's not hard to imagine someone or group creating apps for the sole purpose of getting access to enough information to rob you blind, or worse. Stalkers-R-Us, anyone?" http://daol.aol.com/articles/never-say-this-on-facebook-or-twitter Thanks, Alexis!
5:20pm 4/24/10 -- Update from Keith Johnson: "Here's some articles worth reading about Facebook's retarded attempts to do shit without our knowledge and consent." From CNET: http://news.cnet.com/8301-31322_3-20003185-256.html and from the Electronic Frontier Foundation: http://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2010/04/facebook-further-reduces-control-over-personal-information Thanks, Keith!
12:19pm 4/28/10 -- Update from Sarah Levin: More fb info... 1.5 Million Facebook Profiles Hacked And Up For Sale | Triona's Tech Tips http://www.guidryconsulting.com/techtips/2010/04/1-5-million-facebook-profiles-hacked-and-up-for-sale Thanks, Sarah!
4:02pm 4/28/10 -- Update from Ellen Ginsburg: Senator Schumer & some other Senators are coming out against Facebook's privacy changes! here's a link to one of the recent articles, in case you didn't see it yet and want to read it. Senators' letter to Facebook - Politico Staff - POLITICO.com http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0410/36406.html Thanks, Ellen!
12:19pm 4/29/10 -- Update from Masasa Moyo: Hi Bonnie, Here's some more food for your ire. http://www.wired.com/epicenter/2010/04/report-facebook-ceo-mark-zuckerberg-doesnt-believe-in-privacy Thanks, Masasa!
10:55pm 5/1/10 -- Update from Jonathan Latroy: I saw an article/blog entry earlier about the invasiveness of the new "community pages": http://facebookiswatchingyou.blogspot.com/2010/04/your-status-on-facebook-might-be-going.html Thanks, Jonathan!
5:53pm 5/5/10 -- Update from Marci Liroff: Aargh! I LURVE the community here on Facebook, but I'm getting pretty weary/wary of the privacy and security issues and how it seems to change on a daily basis. http://www.boingboing.net/2010/05/04/six-reasons-to-hate.html and http://eu.techcrunch.com/2010/05/05/video-major-facebook-security-hole-lets-you-view-your-friends-live-chats and http://www.boingboing.net/2010/05/04/six-reasons-to-hate.html and http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/06/technology/internet/06facebook.html Thanks, Marci!
Posted by bonnie at April 23, 2010 2:43 PM