Facebook Instant Personalization - What it is and how to turn it off

Sep 20, 2010   Web and Internet   Nick Vogt   Comments
Please note that this post is over a year old and may contain outdated information.
"Why is my Facebook information being displayed on other web sites?" That's the question I asked myself after visiting Rotten Tomatoes recently. It turns out there's a new Facebook feature I didn't know about that is sharing my information. The best part, it's been out for several months and I didn't know about it.

It's called Facebook Instant personalization, and it's a feature that allows certain web sites to access your public Facebook information. These websites, which currently include Rotten Tomatoes, Docs, Pandora, and Yelp, can access any public information from your Facebook profile when you visit their web site, so long as you're logged into Facebook. By default this feature is turned on, so if you're like me (and you aren't constantly monitoring Facebook's developer blog) you probably didn't know about this feature until you visited one of the partner sites and saw your name and profile picture displayed.

I tend to harp on Facebook quite a bit here, and this is exactly why. Should features like these be rolled into Facebook, defaulted to "on", without any notification? You could argue that instant personalization makes it easier for you to post comments and what-not on Facebook's partner sites, and it does, but at what cost? If you don't keep up with Facebook's regular privacy reductions, chances are you're sharing a lot more information than you know, and now that information is available to a number of other web sites as well -- a number that could grow without notice.

How to turn it off!

Click the Account drop-down in the upper-right and select Privacy Settings. Then look towards the bottom of the page and click the Edit your settings link under Applications and Websites. Now click the Edit Settings button in the Instant personalization row. On the next page uncheck the checkbox. You're done! I would suggest at this point that you go through the rest of your privacy settings if you haven't recently, and make sure you aren't sharing anything you don't want to be.
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