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Facebook Privacy Warning - 2010-04-26

There has been a lot of buzz about Facebook's new privacy setting, "Instant Personalization", that shares your data with non-Facebook websites. Ultimately it will allow partner sites (like Pandora, Yelp and to name a few) access to your, and your friends, personal info for statistical marketing purposes.

While Facebook may have had good intentions in wanting to make your web experience more personal, it raises some significant privacy issues and having the default setting as "on", requiring action on your part to turn it off, is somewhat troubling. Websites have access to your name, profile picture, gender, friend list and likes and interests, among other things. For many users, this is just not a good idea, and they want out.

To disable "Instant Personalization", log onto your Facebook page and select Account, Privacy Settings, Applications and Websites. The bottom item on the list is "Instant Personalization" - either uncheck the "Allow" box, or select "Edit Setting" and uncheck the "Allow" box.

It's also important to note that opting out of Instant Personalization will not completely stop Instant Personalization sites from accessing your information. If any of your Facebook friends visit these sites, the Instant Personalization feature can access that person's friend list and all the publicly available information for each friend. So if you're Facebook friend Mary visits Pandora, even if you've opted out of Instant Personalization, your publicly available information will be shared with Pandora simply because you are on Mary's friend list.

The good news, however, is that you can completely block Instant Personalization sites, but it takes a little more effort on your part. To stop Instant Personalization dead in its tracks, you can go to the individual Facebook pages for each Instant Personalization site, (currently, Pandora and Yelp) and click the 'Block Application' link underneath the application's profile picture. That way, sites like Yelp or Pandora will not be able to get at your data no matter how many times your friend visits the site.

If you have any questions relating to Internet Security and privacy, please call Benson & Associates help desk at 1-877-247-1664.