This short post has 2.5 parts.

1) Concise summary history of eroding Facebook privacy, and

2) another privacy thing you need to do that’s OUTSIDE your account and your own privacy settings.  And…

2.5) YOU have to keep checking when Facebook secretly adds new apps to your account.

Bet you didn’t know about the last two.  Let me address them in somewhat reverse order.

This, and my previous post - Rant about Facebook’s New Strong-Arm Anti-Privacy Upgrade, are part rant but mostly instructions to help you protect your privacy.

There’s more to Opt Out of Instant Personalization than just unclicking that box

I thought we could completely control the personalization privacy settings from our own account.

WRONG.

Here are instructions for further opting out I didn’t realize we have to do. You have to GO DIRECTLY to several applications in Facebook and block them THERE to stop your info from being made available via your friends. Blocking them in your privacy settings isn’t good enough.

Please read “How to Opt Out of Facebook’s Instant Personalization” for additional instructions BEYOND just unchecking the box.  As the Electronic Frontier Foundation writes:

“Simply unchecking the “Allow” box is not sufficient. As Facebook explains, “if you opt out, your friends may still share public Facebook information about you to personalize their experience on these partner sites unless you block the application.  Nor can you go to the Block Applications setting to block these partner sites...to opt out of this fully, you also need to go each page for Microsoft Docs, Pandora, and Yelp and push the Block Application button.” [emphasis mine]

Eroding Facebook privacy over the last 5 years

Check out the short and sweet Facebook’s Eroding Privacy Policy: A Timeline.

To help illustrate Facebook’s shift away from privacy, we have highlighted some excerpts from Facebook’s privacy policies over the years. Watch closely as your privacy disappears, one small change at a time!

Pretty shocking to see “we don’t share info” (2005) to “When you connect with an application or website it will have access to General Information about you” (2010).

Here’s a neat one using graphics to show more details - The Evolution of Privacy on Facebook.  The circle shows different aspects of your personal data, and clicking on it shows how much of it is available by default, to increasing large audiences, in years 2005 to the present.  This should drive home the slowly creeping nature of privacy erosion.

This new paradigm that requires us to block partner sites at their location will cause a slow (and likely hidden) bleed of our privacy.  Facebook offers at this point we must visit Microsoft Docs, Pandora and Yelp.  They also report that they will continue to add other partners over time.

Secret “Recently Used” Apps

How are we supposed to magically know when we have to go to other, NEW partner sites to block them directly too?

You have to KEEP CHECKING.  FromFacebook’s New Features Secretly Add Apps to Your Profile - PCWorld

When a piece of software is automatically installed on your computer without your knowledge, it’s called malware. But what do you call it when Facebook apps are added to your profile without your knowledge? We discovered Wednesday that this is actually happening, and stopping it isn’t as easy as checking a box in your privacy settings.

Takeaway

While this topic might seem outside my normal charter to debug problems, staying on top of your privacy is a great way to prevent certain problems from happening in the first place.

Don’t blow this stuff off.  Even if you decide you’re okay with these changes, at least be *informed* about each one.

Facebook, like political parties, etc., believes in making small changes that no one will really notice or be bothered by, but when you add them all up, you end up surprised and upset at what happened behind your back (right in front of your face).