Privacy and Security TidBits

Facebook’s Instant Personalization: It Takes FIFTEEN Steps to ” OPT-OUT “

After Facebook‘s recent changes in their privacy policies, you need to take a few steps if you don’t want your Facebook bio, education & work, hometown, likes and interests data to be publicly shared online, as well as probably sold to behavioral marketers.

1. Go to your Facebook page

2. Go to “account”

3. Go to “privacy settings”

4.  Go to “applications & websites”

5.  Go to “instant personalization pilot program” all the way at the bottom

6. UN-check the PRE-checked box: allow selected partners to …(steal all your data?)

7.  A window pops up; are you SURE?  click: CONFIRM!!

8. Go back to “applications & websites”

9. Go to “what your friends can share”

10. Uncheck each category that you don’t want your friends to share online

11. Click : Save Changes

After this, you need to block each “selected partner” on their respective Facebook page. So far, they are

12. Microsoft Docs : click “block”

13. Pandora : click “block”

14. Yelp : click “block”

15. Keep checking every day , for the rest of your life, which new “selected partner” Facebook has added to the list and block those too.

Voilà!  You have just opted out! Wasn’t that quick & easy?

Unfortunately, I believe most people won’t bother to go through all these steps, even in order to protect their privacy.

Worse, most people won’t even know how to opt-out, because the opt-out option is set up in such a complicated way.  Facebook knows this and counts on this.

Do you think it’s fair to have to go through fifteen steps in order to prevent your personal data to be sold to advertisers?

In Canada’s Privacy by Design system , the opt-in option is the default setting.

Jules Polonetsky, Director of The Future of Privacy Forum proposes more balance between consumer and business interests by improving opt-out techniques.

Both above mentioned alternatives have one thing in common: the ingredient that is missing in Facebook‘s machiavellian optout design, which is “respect for the consumer”.

UPDATE: EPIC and others have filed a complaint on 5/5/ 2010 with the FTC about the New Facebook Features discussed in this article.

UPDATE: After worldwide outrage about Facebook’s new Privacy Policy, Facebook caved in and made some changes:

Facebook’s New Privacy Controls as of 5/28/2010

UPDATE: One more reason to opt-out of Facebook’s instant personalisation program. Now all your “likes” might show up on your Facebook friends’ Bing search: see Facebook and Bing Do the Search Two-Step. Since I wrote the article, Facebook has added Rotten Tomatoes and Scribd to their list of instant personalization partners. 9/15/2010