Sunday, March 27, 2011

facebook privacy backdoor

I was just taking a look at my facebook privacy settings.  I was actually trying to fix a bug that won't let me upload photos from my iPhone 4, but I stumbled across a group of settings that I was rather annoyed at. So I'm sharing them here in case anyone else wants to turn these off. You may all know about this one already, but I didn't, so I'm sharing.

Here was the screen I eventually found that was troubling:

Based on what it says here, I'm going to assume that if one of my facebook friends grants access to an application, game, or website, then that application will also have access to everything I have checked here that I also share with my facebook friends. The screen you see above is what was checked by default; I have never modified these settings. Personally, I choose to opt out of the "more social experience."

Anyway, if you want to find this screen, too, here's how you find it.  In the top right hand corner of your facebook page, click on Account > Privacy Settings.

You will see this screen:

Click on Edit your settings from the Apps and Websites section. On the next screen, click on Edit Settings next to Info accessible through your friends.

You will then see the screen from before:

Select or deselect whichever options you're comfortable with. Hope this helps.


OakParkGirl said...

That was a sneaky one, I happenned to see someone posting on it back when they rolled out that change and set my default to not sharing. FB was great at not advertising it. Sneaky buggers...

The Invisible said...

Sneaky buggers or shifty a**holes? This really is getting ridiculous.

OakParkGirl said...

Heather can back me up - unless you are a software developer it might not be obvious that sometimes new features are easier to implement in the least restrictive way. Automatically making everything locked down when they added granularity to your privacy settings may have had worse consequences than leaving them open. Also, I saw nes of the change the morning it hit in a LOT of different places. I heard about it just as it went into production and tweaked as needed. Some of it is about being an informed user too, FB can't be responsible for making sure everyone is staying educated on how it works... it's not the nature of this kind of website.

Then again, *maybe* they were being shifty but I don't see how tricking you into sharing your info with other people through their apps benefits them if it just pisses everyone off and makes them leave. And for the record, for all the righteous indignation, I don't know a single person who left FB because of this.

This site has a lot of good info for people if they need to get caught up on how to use privacy settings:

Although, part of me wonders...if people are so worried about privacy, and locking down every detail about themselves from everyone, maybe they shouldn't be using the world's largest social networking site in the first place. It's the world-wide internet, you can only expect so much privacy in the end... :p

rubyspikes said...

Oh I am so not backing you up on that one! Really? It's too hard for us to not share all your information with everyone even though you told us to only share with your friends. Really? Tough. I don't buy it. I saw The Social Network. Mark Zuckerberg is frigin' brilliant. (At least according to Aaron Sorkin.) Figure it out.

Also, didn't Microsoft do the exact opposite thing when they released their operating systems with greater security? I believe it made for a hilarious "I'm a Mac and I'm a PC" commercial. "Are you sure you want to so that? Confirm or Deny."

My 2 cents, facebook should embrace being facebook and not try to be more like Twitter. Facebook is where people share things with their FRIENDS. They built it into the name they gave people in their network. You have to confirm that you want someone in your network of friends. Twitter lets any random stranger follow you. It's called following. And everybody knows this. So (IMHO) facebook should make people really happy by allowing them to have control over what they want out there and stop opening everything up by default.

Why do I put stuff on the web/facebook if I want it kept private? BECAUSE YOU TOLD ME YOU WEREN'T GOING TO GIVE IT TO ANYONE!!! Should I stop banking online, too? Sheesh.

You're right. No one is leaving facebook because of this. Personally I think it's because facebook is still the best option for this particular type of social networking. But as Apple and Google have demonstrated. Is is possible to take out a giant. Facebook shouldn't get too cocky.

Finally, you did NOT just say that it's not fb's fault that their users don't know what's going on. Again, lazy ass attitude by IT folks. Right up there with, "people don't like change." I'll quote my favorite college professor who taught me, "People don't dislike change; they dislike change that makes their lives harder." (Thank you, Dr Jeffrey.) When you make changes to the way things have always worked, of course it's your responsibility to make sure your customers know everything you're changing. Not for some moral or ethical reason, but purely for keeping a satisfies customer base. Otherwise you go the way of so many other products that have offered vastly improved newer version, but are still hated by their users because it's much harder to use. (Can we say Office 2007?)

Love you, OakParkGirl, but I am clearly way less forgiving. I am all about the users, and this was NOT user-friendly.

OakParkGirl said...

Dammit! I wrote up this really long involved response and apparently didn't hit submit enough times, or maybe mis-typed the "i'm not a robot" code. I hate this blog engine :(

The short answer is... perhaps I am easier on FB because it's free, they make money off of ads, so at no point did I ever expect them to actually respect my privacy completely. I assumed they'd sell me out, so I stay on top of that kind of thing. I probably shouldn't be so cynical and pessemistic, but then I also don't get suprised, or too upset, by things like this either.

You can have private tweets actually, and approve people who follow you. But then what's the point again.

And I loved Office 2007, and love 2010 even more. Not sure of the lesson there ;)

On this "But as Apple and Google have demonstrated. Is is possible to take out a giant." Not sure who the giant is... Google had a couple of really sad attempts to take out FB and twitter with thei rown social networking tools (I tried them as alternatives to FB and twitter, they sucked) and both got pounded into the dust.

rubyspikes said...

For the record, I love Office 2007. But I'm still trying to get other people to embrace the change. Ironically, it's usually Office super users who were very adept at using a lot of the old features and have trouble finding them in the "new" Office. So again, it's not that it changed, it's that it made it harder to find the stuff that they needed.

You don't know who Google and Apple have taken out? Let's see, before Google, Yahoo! was the dominant search engine. By far. And MapQuest totally dominated their particular niche. Yahoo! Maps started to offer a similar service but Google Maps has taken over. And there was a time when the only people who had Macs where artsy people who did graphic design. EVERYBODY had PC's. And Motorola phones. Not any more.

Guess my point was just that even the most dominant industry leaders can be taken out if they get lazy and don't continue to respond to the needs of their customers. So just because facebook is dominant now, doesn't mean it's not going to go the way of my space.

BTW, I love that my blog has just become an open chat between you and me. What do you want to talk about next?

RaRa said...

Wow, such a fancy post with all the screen shots. Looks like you might know your way around a computer :)

rubyspikes said...

I'm all about user-friendliness. It's my thing. Even my documentation of the un-user-friendly should be user-friendly.

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