Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Is it time to ditch Facebook? What to do...

Amid all the new privacy changes that Facebook has made, and the privacy policy that's longer than the Constitution of the United States I ask myself, "is it time to ditch Facebook?"

This is a question I've been pondering the last couple of days. I spend a good amount of my online time on Facebook for better or worse. I would miss all of the old friends I've reconnected with over the years. But I do not like everything I do online to be sold to third party partners if I don't jump through hoops to adjust their very convoluted and misleading privacy settings.

Something that's been holding me back from ditching is the information I've uploaded and what would happen to it. However, I found this great utility called Backupify that allows one to backup many online presences. Facebook is one of the services they can backup and this allows you to keep all your links, notes, events, and the important one: pictures. Use this and then you can delete your account without worry.

But let's be honest, everyone you know is on Facebook and that can be hard to give up. If you decide not to quit there are a couple of things you need to do immediately to secure your personal information (and mine by proxy) from Facebook and it's third party partners.
  • Be sure to opt-out of the "Instant Personalization Pilot Program." Don't you just love the wording of that? "Instant Personalization Pilot Program" which is basically just a misleading way of saying "we're selling you out". Here's how to opt-out: go to Account, then Privacy Settings, then select Applications and Websites. Click the edit settings button next to Instant Personalization Pilot Program. Then UNCHECK the box next to "Select partner websites may use information I'm sharing with everyone to automatically personalize my experience."
  • A useful tool you can use to check what information is being exposed comes from a ReclaimPrivacy.org. Follow the instructions on this page to help close up any private information from the publics grubby hands.
Even if you follow these instructions, there's no way of knowing that Facebook won't change their policy again to undo all these settings. I'm still undecided on the subject, so I'll leave you with this: if you do decide to stay make sure that everything you post and display is something you would want everyone to see. Because they will.

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