HOWTO: Protect Yourself (as best you can) from Facebook's F8 Platform

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April 21, 2010


To recap my “social web is not a private web” article, Facebook’s F8 platform will begin to create a massive social web for which you have already given them permission to share your public info.

Be warned, though, that even if you do take some of the following steps to opt-out, your friends might still be able to share some of your public information (Name, Profile Picture, Gender, Current City, Networks, Friend List, and Pages) without your consent as these ‘partner’ sites will have access to your friend’s contact list which can contain public pieces of information about you.

To help protect yourself, here are some links at Facebook that can help you opt out of as much of this F8 platform as you can:

  1. http://www.facebook.com/settings/?tab=privacy#!/settings/?tab=privacy&section=applications
    What is it? You’ll notice a new check box at the bottom called “Instant Personalization” which is enabled – this was Facebook’s way of forcing you to opt into their f8 platform without asking you first.
    Recommendation: un-select the “Instant Personalization” checkbox.

  2. http://www.facebook.com/settings/?tab=privacy#!/settings/?tab=privacy&section=applications&field=friends_share
    What is it? This first link will let you control which pieces of your profile data can be shared by your friends.
    Recommendation: turn them all off.

  3. http://www.facebook.com/settings/?tab=privacy#!/settings/?tab=privacy&section=profile
    This is where you can see who has access to various pieces of information you store on Facebook.
    Recommendation: set everything to “Only Friends”.

  4. http://www.facebook.com/settings/?tab=privacy#!/settings/?tab=privacy&section=contact
    What is it? This is where you select who can access the contact information you store on Facebook.
    Recommendation: Lock this area down unless there’s information here that you truly want to be publicly available such as an IM screen name for your friends to find. I have contact information that I only make available to family (cell phone, etc) so I have a contact group set up, and give them permission to certain pieces of info that wouldn’t be shown even to “only friends.” I let my web site, iandouglas.com, be available to ‘everyone’.

  5. Block the partner apps you don’t want your information given to. Each of the following three links will have a “Block Application” link on the left menu of the page.
    Recommendation: block these apps unless you want these partners to have your data:

5b. Once you block them, you can verify they’re listed here:
http://www.facebook.com/settings/?tab=privacy#!/settings/?tab=privacy&section=applications&field=blocked_apps

Good luck out there!