It’s pretty outrageous to watch Facebook defend something which is obviously unethical. I’m talking about the company’s “Instant Personalization” program which the company forces users into, whether they like it or not. Despite the ongoing public criticism about the service, and a number of other products, Facebook is standing strong, arguing that users “love” what Facebook is doing.
This Is Not What Users Signed Up For
While I personally believe that many of Facebook’s new products will help make the web “more social”, I strongly believe that the company has crossed a line with “instant personalization”. The reason is that this component of the service was not an integral feature when Facebook first launched, and more than 400 million users subsequently registered for the site.
The backlash against Facebook’s new service has only begun. Facebook’s defense that the backlash against “instant personalization” is an inaccurate portrayal of all Facebook users’ opinion is unacceptable. Just because users aren’t protesting, doesn’t mean that they want the service. Right now, thousands (if not millions) of users are actively educating their friends about how to opt-out of Facebook’s instant personalization service via their status updates (see screenshot below).
The full text of what users are actively sharing in their profiles is as follows:
As of today, there is anew privacy setting called “Instant Personalization,” which shares data with non-facebook websites, and is automatically set to “Allow.” Go to Account> Privacy Settings> Applications & Websites->Instant
Personalization and UN-CHECK “Allow.” Please copy and repost ’cause ..if you ‘un-check’ this and your friends don’t,your friends are stillsharing info about you..
Is that the message of somebody who “loves” the new service? Here’s exactly what Ethan Beard of Facebook told Computer World:
The response from users speaks very, very loudly that they love what we’re doing.
I think there’s a lot of other talk that’s not coming from users necessarily. There’s been a lot of interest from the media, from organizations and officials. But to be honest, the user response has been overwhelmingly positive.
Not only is that a complete lie, but it’s a violation of the trust of the hundreds of millions of users who support the service.
Facebook Must Make “Instant Personalization” Opt-In
Look, I’m one of the biggest supporters of Facebook, however I’m also the company’s greatest critic when they do things to violate the trust of users. I personally like the option of automatically logging in to partner sites, however I want to give Facebook the option of selecting who to share my data with, not be forced to accept it. The company could easily place a homepage promotion for “Instant Personalization” and explain why users would want it and I bet millions of users would opt-in.
Ryan Singel articulates the situation most effectively when he states: “We want easier ways to share photos, links and short updates with friends, family, co-workers and even, sometimes, the world. But that doesn’t mean the company has earned the right to own and define our identities.”
Facebook truly has no choice. The company must regain users’ trust if they want to continue growing their wildly successful business. Trust me, there are plenty of other opportunities for Facebook to make money. Forcing users to expose their data shouldn’t be part of the path to becoming the most dominant internet company.
Do you agree that Facebook has crossed the line with their instant personalization service? Share with them this article or other articles pertaining to Facebook’s instant personalization and help stop Facebook from violating your privacy.
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