The biggest story is that Facebook has been loosening the default privacy settings for all of the information it contains. Here's a nice visual history:
If you're worried about your privacy settings you can use this tool:
Or you can do it all manually. Facebook settings can be confusing to navigate so you can use these links to jump to all the different privacy panels in Facebook without having to hunt for them one at a time.
- Personal content
- Friends, Tags and Connections
- Profile Display
- External Website Personalization
- Friend Share
A second, unrelated issue is that Facebook is sharing who you are when you click on one of the advertisements that appear in Facebook.
I'm not too worried about advertisers, though because I'm more worried about the amount of information third party Facebook applications get. Even if you trust facebook with your data, do you trust every single facebook application maker?
Bizarrely, Facebook has threatened to sue a researcher that crawled through all the publicly available data on facebook as part of his research. Oh sure, you make the information public but they get annoyed when someone collects it. The researcher has made a map of how people connect to one another to see if there are groups of highly connected people in the US. It turns out there are. It's quite fascinating. It's a good thing he made his crawling public or else facebook would never have known they needed to sue him.
The CEO of Facebook has made some worrying statements about how he thinks that privacy is no longer a social norm. My blogging buddy Guillaume has detected this attitude in Facebook's options to turn off their instant personalization feature.
Then there's the instant personalization feature itself which "personalizes" other web sites with Facebook information. I'm not sure how much it's leaking because I haven't worked through all the security implications yet but it's creeping me out. :-)
Oh, Guillaume's just pointed out this link to me:
Facebook runs afoul of privacy watchdog again
Apparently Facebook's got into legal trouble in Canada over its behaviour... And the fun continues..