If You Link Your Facebook Profile Data to Pages, then You Make that Information Public by Default

Facebook’s new user profile Pages transition tool includes an obvious and yet not obvious way that users might make personal information more publicly available.

The company is launching a set of new Pages designed for non-commercial purposes today, and as part of that it is asking users to convert elements of static data on their Profile into links to Pages. This includes Pages for profile categories like Current City, Home Town, Activities, Interests, and Things I Like. The transition tool is designed to help users pick out the right Pages for their profiles. It comes with options to only do individual Pages if the user prefer. There’s also a way to “snooze,” but no way to opt out completely from going through the tool.

Meanwhile, all Pages are by default public. If you “like” one (or formerly “become a fan” of one), then everyone can see this information by default. This means that if you previously set these areas to somehow be private, the transition tool that Facebook has for you to add Pages will automatically reset these areas to be “Everyone.” If you don’t want those items to be visible to the public, you need to go back in and set them back to the stricter privacy settings you prefer. However, it is still possible for anyone see any Pages that you added through other means, for example by manually looking through all the fans of a Page.

This point seems obvious, because the Pages are by default public. If you “Like” your home town, people who look at the Page of your home town can still see you even if you decided to hide that information and show it to only your direct friends on Facebook. This is how Pages have worked already.

What might confuse some users, though, is the fact that they already had their privacy settings restrict this personal information. They may not realize that the transition tool just moved their settings to the Page default instead of what they had manually chosen. Facebook, for its part, seems to be trying to remind users of the ramifications, because the pages of the transition tool includes the words “Remember, your Pages are public.”