Facebook ‘Instant Personalization’ Privacy Concerns

Facebook has introduced a new feature, called Instant Personalization, that aims to personalize your web experience.  The idea behind this is that Facebook’s affiliate sites will have access to your profile information and use this to target you with things you are interested in.  The question is… how much information do you want people to have, and do you want them to know this by default?

The list of sites participating right now in the program is not really that long; however, the list will grow.

Currently participating:

  • Bing – Social Search
  • TripAdvisor – Social Travel
  • Clicker – Personalized TV Recommendations
  • Rotten Tomatoes – Friends’ Movie Reviews
  • Docs.com – Document Collaboration
  • Pandora – Personalized Music
  • Yelp – Friends’ Local Reviews
  • Scribd – Social Reading

Each of these services will now benefit from information about you and your friends provided by Facebook.  As stated by the Instant Personalization page:

  • See your friends’ reviews first when you search for a movie to watch.
  • Hear your favorite songs automatically when you visit a music site.
  • Experience a Web tailored to you and your friends.

If your concerns align with mine, you will be interested in disabling this feature. My feeling is that the information I post on Facebook is for me and my friends only; the outside world need not know about me in this way. I am in no way saying that this feature is a bad thing for people, but the fine folks over at Facebook have this featured enabled by default and that is my biggest issue with it.

To disable it:

  1. Log into Facebook
  2. In the upper top right corner, click Account > Privacy Settings
  3. In Apps and websites section on the bottom left, click Edit your settings
  4. Under Instant personalization, click Edit settings
  5. Uncheck the box titled Enable instant personalization on partner websites

I think a personalized web experience is something that most people will want because it aligns our interests with our web experience.  However, this may be an issue as well, personal privacy is something that people just don’t seem to take an interest in.  Remember the days when you could walk down the street and connect to a ton of wireless networks?  There are fewer and fewer of these now, and a big part of the reason is that companies are starting to do the security work for us.  Many ISP’s now ship wireless routers for their services with WEP enabled by default.  Features like this should not be enabled by default, instead of opt-out requirements, things like this should be opt-in.

About Joe D

I have always had a passion for everything computing. In early 2000, I decided to take my passion to the web. Thus, C.O.D. was born. Through the years we have made many great friends at C.O.D. and hope to continue our journey for years to come.