"Instant Personalisation" Arrives at Facebook. Be Afraid! Be Very Afraid!

Mike Halsey MVP
Jan 27, 2011

It's got the innocuous title of "Instant Personalisation" but this new Facebook feature is yet another major blow to your privacy and security on the social network.

Facebook has been plagued with privacy scares over the last couple of years and the latest is a feature which is going live for all Facebook users in the next day or two.  The social networking giant describes it as a tool that "Lets you see relevant information about your friends the moment you arrive on select partner websites."  In reality it's sharing your personal data with third-parties without your consent.

This feature, when it goes live will be activated by default so you'll specifically have to switch it off.  You can do this by clicking on the Account link in the top right of the screen then Privacy Settings.  In the Apps and Websites section click the Edit your Settings link.  At the next page you'll see an edit settings button for Instant Personalisation.  It's here that you'll be able to switch the feature off.

The feature is fully described as...

Our goal is to give you a great social and personalised experience with every app and website you use. We've worked with a select set of partners to personalise your experience as soon as you arrive on their sites.

These partner sites (currently limited to Bing, TripAdvisor, Clicker, Rotten Tomatoes, Docs, Pandora, Yelp, and Scribd), 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.

When you arrive at one of these sites, you'll see a notification message and a way to turn off the personalised experience on that site.

Though I cannot personally understand why Facebook can't take the hint from previous privacy fiascos and offer this as an opt-in, rather than an opt-out.  It's more than likely that the vast majority of Facebook's 500 million users won't understand either this feature or the privacy implications for them.

Another useful setting to change here is the Information Accessible Through Your Friendswhere you can switch on or off what information your friends may be sharing about you, inadvertently or otherwise, though their own profile that you probably won't even realise.  This includes the Places I Check Into feature which, so as I'm concerned, is an invitation to have your home burgled.

Facebook needs to examine their privacy and security policies very careful in 2011 or else they could be headed for a very big fall and a mass exodus of users later in the year.


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  1. jlw said on January 29, 2011 at 7:19 am

    This isn’t a new feature. It’s been around for several months

  2. rover3500 said on January 28, 2011 at 2:36 pm

    I think Facebook is a joke when it comes to security.The fact that most people don’t have a clue about the implications or how to disable it,is criminal i think,they should’nt get away with it.These people trust facebook to make the right decisions for them,which they obviously don’t ….all down to money money money as usual.

  3. Nebulus said on January 28, 2011 at 1:27 pm

    One of the (many) reasons for which I don’t use social networks. For me their inconvenience is bigger than their usefulness, at least compared to other means of communication.

  4. dwarf_t0ssr said on January 27, 2011 at 8:39 pm

    I have the option too in my (very fake) account as well, and it is also disabled by default. Which is nice, for once.

  5. Ben said on January 27, 2011 at 6:37 pm

    I already have this option in my account settings but it was not enabled by default. In fact I have to opt in, so it appears.

  6. Martin said on January 27, 2011 at 5:08 pm

    Mike I agree that the problem is that advertisers get access to the information. Information that may have a privacy setting that should not allow them to access those contents in first place. If that is not a breach of privacy, what is?

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