Facebook further reduces privacy control for users

The EFF reports on another ratcheting back of data privacy control for Facebook users: "Today, Facebook removed its users' ability to control who can see their own interests and personal information. Certain parts of users' profiles, 'including your current city, hometown, education and work, and likes and interests' will now be transformed into 'connections,' meaning that they will be shared publicly. If you don't want these parts of your profile to be made public, your only option is to delete them."


  1. Facebook doesn’t give a crap about anyone’s privacy. I thought everyone knew this, and yet I keep getting ‘invitations’ to join the ranks of the Facebook Zombies.

  2. Apparently nobody except me read the original (and appalling) agreement to become a member of Facebook.

    Oh to be Nelson Muntz on the Simpsons and just say

    “HA HA!”

  3. Copy and pasted: Facebook has made it so I cannot control who sees this information so I must delete it.

    “Christ! What an asshole.”

  4. Complain, free ice cream, etc.

    I’m sure they’ll be surprised when no one wants to pay for the service when it goes public.

    For me, it’s marketing tool. There’s nothing on there I don’t want people to see.

    Problem solved!

  5. If it wasn’t already clear, it’s time to remember: put nothing in your FB profile you wouldn’t put on a postcard!

  6. The EFF post seems to make a pretty huge error, or else Facebook have changed their policy pretty much instantly.

    You can choose whether or not to make the things you write in the interests section “connections” or not. Want to keep them private? You still can. You have to specifically opt-in to connections.

    It says so on the Facebook blog: http://blog.facebook.com/blog.php?post=382978412130

    1. Yes, exactly! I did some poking around on FB after reading this, and my privacy settings all look the same. I then went to some of my fan pages, and clicked on some of the other fans listed who are not my friends, and I can see varying amounts of their information depending on what they’ve chosen to share. I don’t see any changes at all, if you choose to opt out.

  7. Don’t post anything on someone else’s server and expect privacy. Not unless you have a signed contract in hand which promises that they won’t share it — and even then there’s the risk of being hacked.

    (“Privacy. That’s so 20th-century.”)

  8. Long ago, I made sure everything on my Facebook page except for my name was a lie. My current location is set to Ulan Bator, Mongolia. This is probably why I’m seeing an ad* with the headline “Money is a Lie!” and the following text: “Siya daw ay galing sa mahirap. Siya daw ang magtatapos ng kahirapan. Talagang hindi bawal mangarap, ‘no?”

    *Firefox isn’t behaving for me today, so I’m stuck with ads.

    1. Actually, that’s Tagalog, the official language of the Philippines. I’m not sure why you’d see that if you have your location set to Mongolia, unless perhaps your computer’s time zone / location are set to the Philippines?

  9. Deletion is not your only option if all you wish to do is make your results annoying to try to make searchable. Just don’t use commas to separate things, use periods and improper spacing. Hiking, Skiing, and Biking are easily searchable. Hiking.Skiing.Biking, is next to useless for FB’s search options. Your interests will still display and be readable to human eyes — a thing many people desire from their profiles.

    1. This used to be the case. Now LIKES and INTERESTS totally ignores anything that is out of its comfort zone.

  10. Given that Facebook keeps everything in perpetuity, what good will it do to “delete” part of your profile? Sure, you might hide it from the public, but there are other prying eyes who still might find it.

  11. They don’t give a shit about privacy, I’m of the very small minority who no longer has a Facebook profile, I deleted mine the last time they changed the privacy rules and settings (or as much of it as they let you delete) and i’m very camper now, I urge you all to do the same.

  12. From the looks of their “help center” FAQ the EFF is right. I can’t direct link to it, but you can find it by clicking on “help” at the bottom right of the page.

    I have no section to manage this nor have I been offered the popup window. Not thrilled at all. All of my privacy settings are set to display to “only friends” and I’m not visible in searches, so not sure if my strict privacy settings are intact or not.

  13. i don’t get all this anger towards facebook. the whole purpose of being on facebook is not about privacy. it’s about sharing. (and enjoying it) if you want privacy, do something else.

      1. You took the words right out of my mouth, i go on fb to share with my friends, if i wanted to share with the world i would have a myspace account or something similar.

  14. I really don’t see any difference? I’ve been poking around; how do you know if you’ve been attached to something you didn’t want to be attached to? And given that Facebook says it’s opt-in, does anyone actually know what’s going on?

  15. And people ask me why I dont join FB…or Avatars United.
    Suuurrreee, p*** someone off badly enough and find them at your rl house or work or???

  16. If you don’t want to be seen as the member of a group, then don’t join (or leave) the group. It’s no different than a social gathering in the real world–you can’t be an invisible member of a sports team, or of a band, or any other gathering of other humans, because the other humans in that group can see you. The new “communities” are just like that.

    Shame on boingboing and the EFF for overreacting. Facebook has done some pretty terrible things, privacy-wise, but this? Not so much. It’s actually getting at one of the basic premises of social networking–that you can find other, new people who share your interests. If you don’t want to share interests with others, then don’t have interests.

  17. Junk data is more worthless than no data or deleting your data.

    Removing information tells them soemthing about you: i.e. “This person’s particular breaking point re: privacy is here”

    Junk information sends them on a marketing wild-goose chase, which ultimately wastes their time and resources. I’d prefer to use them for the whores they are (occasionally FB can be convenient) but otherwise be a spanner in the works.

    Think it’s good to behave with disrespect to customers’ user privacy? Then have fun with your increasingly irrelevant marketing tool.

  18. Facebook is a website. On the Internet. If you don’t want people to see things, don’t put them on the Internet.

  19. There are two things you have to do to prevent the “Instant Personalization Partners” from getting your information:

    1) Opt out of instant personalization (e.g., that checkbox you have to uncheck): http://www.facebook.com/settings/?tab=privacy&ref=mb#!/help/?faq=17105

    2) Block specific applications (the ones to block are mentioned in the above link): http://www.facebook.com/help/?page=966#!/help/?faq=16976

    I found this info by clicking the “Learn More” link in the box that appears when you uncheck the “Instant Personalization” checkbox.

    The thing is, I’m not sure how long this will work. You’ll probably have to block every application in the future in this manner, and I’m not sure Facebook will announce all of them in the future.

  20. To Anon, comment #13 Do you realize what percentage 400 million is out of almost 7 billion. You are not in the minority.

  21. I’ve migrated all my content over to http://www.folkdirect.com – I only share with those I choose and I can hide/show whatever I want. It’s built on strong privacy controls (with no silly applications that steal your info!)

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