<begin rant> I got an involuntary and unannounced reduction in my Facebook privacy yesterday.  No warning in email.  I visited my profile this morning, and was informed that “The things you care about will now link to actual pages.”  So, Facebook is mining my personal information to make connections I didn’t ask for.

Now all your Interests, etc., have been automatically linked to other pages, presumably to connect you with others having the same interests, and to provide you with more unsolicited information Facebook thinks you might like.  Wikipedia is offered as a sample source of such quality (ahem) information Facebook will thrust upon you.

Facebook presents what it’s already connected you to, and provides the option to opt-out.  But read the fine print - “If you don’t link to any Pages, these sections of your profile will be empty.  By linking your profile to Pages, you will be making public connections.

At the end of this post, I walk through several privacy screens to show where lots of these not-so-easy-to-find Privacy Settings are located.

An appropriate but non-scathing heading for this section escapes me

Here’s what it suggested for me.  Now be aware - I’d already removed all of my interests, etc., because I was searching for a job and wanted a clean profile.

Two points -

1. I REMOVED my education links some time ago.  BUT FACEBOOK STILL HAS THAT INFORMATION STORED SOMEWHERE, and by golly, wants me to reconsider.

2 - HELLO!?!  I can’t list an interest without Facebook FORCING me to link it to a page somewhere?  I can’t keep this info private (as in, Only Friends)?  Read it again … you CANNOT list an interest (or whatever) without Facebook forcing the page link.  WTF?

When I unchecked the two proposed education links above, I was presented with this dialog box.

It’s all or nothing, folks.

Then Facebook tried to lure me back in.  See below.

When I selected “VIEW PAGE SELECTIONS” again just to check (assuming none would be listed), the SAME two educational suggestions were still listed, and RECHECKED as OPTED IN.

Grrrr.  If Facebook doesn’t like what you tell it, it just ignores you.

In deleting the connections Facebook created, it deleted all the actual interests you have/had.  It’s all or nothing, baby!

What, exactly, is Facebook looking at to link to the world? See below.  Again, Facebook encouraged me to add back all that information.  (I am tempted to add something really bizarre to see what it suggests.  Would it find a connection of my interest was “I hate Facebook for sleazy changes to privacy settings?”)  Actually, I probably will. :-)

What’s the big deal?  Well, perhaps nothing if you list “cooking” as an interest, as Facebook explains below.  But what about more controversial issues you might share with just friends?  Legalizing marijuana?  Gay rights?  Obama sucks?  If 1 Million People Join The World Will Come To An End?

Let’s try it!

So I edited my Activities and Interests above with “Ranting about Horrible Facebook Privacy Upgrades.”  After I saved, I went to my profile and saw the entry for the above.  And clicked on the link.  Here is what I found…..

Yeah Facebook loves me!

1) Facebook created a brand new page just for my interest

2) I am listed as a public fan of the page!

See how easy it is to accidentally share your personal information and probably not even know it???

What this means to you

Now you have to think twice.  Your name/profile appears on the fan page you’ve been forced to connect to.  Not so public anymore.

Unfortunately, I deleted several items that weren’t inappropriate, but borderline enough that Facebook’s new policy pushes me over the edge to remove my interests and other information.

This page should scare you

Here’s how Facebook is helping us connect … and has ALREADY DONE SO WITH YOUR INFORMATION WITHOUT YOUR PERMISSION.  This is OPT-OUT, not OPT-IN.

A Richer Profile - Your profile is now organized into categories and will link directly to Official and Community Pages about your interests.  Now you can express yourself more fully on your profile, and your friends can learn more about you by simply clicking on your interests.

To help you link to actual Pages, we’ve matched info you’ve entered on your profile to Pages about these topics.

I do not want this, did not ask for this, and was not informed directly by Facebook until *I* logged in and *after* Facebook had already worked it’s magic.

And even if I did want it, how do I control what Facebook thinks I should link to?  As with my education example above, I said NO and it ignored me.

Change you privacy settings

1) Head over to your Privacy Settings > Applications and Websites page.

A screenshot of this page is below.

1) Notice the new option at the bottom of the page for Instant Personalization.  UNCHECK it.  Also visit the links under that line to understand more about what is happening.

2) And while you’re here, check EACH ONE OF THESE OPTIONS and ensure you are aware of how much information you are sharing with the world.  You’ll be surprised.

3) ESPECIALLY - go to “What your friends can share about you” to deny access to lots of personal information.

4) ALSO - “What you share” - There’s a big graphic and a LITTLE link on the bottom for “this page.”  Click it.  See how many apps you’ve approved? Every darn time you click on some cute link like send flowers or what does your name mean in Japanese, you automatically give that app the right to access your information unless you specifically delete that app here.  Again, you’ll be surprised.

2. Head over to “Privacy Settings > Friends, Tags and Connections”

Here is the default setting for the newer items on the bottom … “Everyone.”  Thanks Facebook.  NOWHERE does Facebook suggest you wander over to this new privacy page.  So not only is your info connected to new pages, but now all this is available to the world.

CHANGE THIS!

Here’s a good article for reference: Delete Facebook Apps that Now Have Greater Access to Your Data.

Who will this hurt most?

So I ask myself, I have relatives who don’t log on to Facebook very often.  Their information has Already Been Converted.  They were not notified this took place.  So sure, you can Opt-Out, but how would you know to do so?  So without your knowledge (perhaps for months) additional information about you is available without your consent.

Because Facebook is Helping You Out by doing all the hard work for you.

<end rant>