I thought I’d double-check my privacy settings on facebook today, here’s what I’ve done:
First, go to the privacy page.
I’d already customised my “Sharing on facebook” settings – setting everything to “Friends Only”
It turns out that what facebook means by “Friends Only” isn’t exactly what I thought it meant though – it actually means “Your Friends”, “Any websites facebook trusts”, “Anyone applications your friends trust”, “Any websites your friends trust”, and “Any of your applications”.
To reduce the huge number of places facebook will share your personal data with a bit, click “Edit your settings” under “Applications, games and websites”, and change the settings for “Instant personalization” [sic]. Now turn off any extra applications you’ve got installed (several applications seemed to have mysteriously installed themselves on my account through using facebook connect twice, although I would never have said I was willing to install a facebook app from them).
Another privacy concern is that Facebook can track your movements over the entire internet due to people using Facebook Connect – If I want facebook to have data, I’ll enter it myself.
Most sites that collect information about you (like tracking codes) can be blocked if you’re so-inclined. What’s more, they normally just track you – they don’t tie it into personal information about you. Facebook on the other hand is trusted with personal data by enough people that it is able to know exactly who you are, and exactly what you’re doing right now.
Unfortunately it’s very tough to block facebook connect on other websites – they serve the “social plugins” from the same domain as Facebook – so you can’t just block it with an entry in your hosts file. You can install ad blockers to do it but, working in advertising, I really don’t like that option.
It would be a massive shame if Facebook ended up ruining the web for ad-funded publishers because they don’t give any other way to block their services.
I’m not leaving Facebook yet, but I’m coming perilously close. Perhaps the most worrying thing to me is if I do leave, I won’t be able to stop facebook from sharing any and all information my friends enter with everyone and his dog.