Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Even more Facebook privacy

I have a Facebook account. I primarily use it to share funny photo’s and funny links with friends. To me it’s the e-mail of the new millennium.
But lately you read a lot of criticism about Facebook’s privacy policy. A nice ‘evolution’ of Facebook’s privacy settings can be found here. It shows how settings are getting less private with each new Facebook update. Then there is also the Facebook privacy scanner. I highly recommend everyone giving that thing a try to see where the weak spots are in your Facebook privacy settings.

But there is more. It’s not just what people can find out about you when they look you up on Facebook. You should also be concerned about what a website can find out about you when you visit them. Remember the fiasco that was Facebook Beacon? Well, there still is something similar I think. The web sites aren’t allowed to post to your news feed, but they might be able to gather information about you.

When I recently reviewed my privacy settings, I went to the page where you can see which Facebook applications have which rights. And to my surprise I even saw a few websites I visited recently in that list. I didn’t recall giving them access to my Facebook profile, but there they were. This looks a lot like the “Instant personalisation pilot programme” I also saw in the privacy options. But I have that option turned off.

But I found a way to ensure no web site will ever know I’m logged into Facebook. You see, modern browsers offer this extra sandbox for browsing. I use Google Chrome primarily and it offers the “Incognito” option. Internet Explorer offers something similar with “InPrivate Browsing”. I haven’t tested it with Internet Explorer, but when I open Facebook in an “Incognito” window in Google Chrome, that Facebook session is limited to that browser window. I then use another Google Chrome browser window (a non-“Incognito” window) for my normal browsing. That way, when I visit a web site, it’ll never know I am currently logged into Facebook and I have extra privacy.

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