(from myfoxdc.com) MINNEAPOLIS – Facebook is now sharing your personal profile information with third parties. For now, it’s just a few web sites, like the music site Pandora, and the consumer review site, Yelp. Facebook says it is a pilot program.

Facebook is automatically sharing that information, without your consent. If you don’t want to share, you have to opt out on either Facebook and partner sites.

University of Minnesota law professor and privacy expert Bill McGevern says it’s an important line in the sand. And for Facebook, with 400 million users , the stakes are high.

“Facebook is trying over and over to get this shared so Facebook becomes the center of the web,” said McGevern.

Facebook wants to make money by selling user information.

Last week, Facebook announced new features designed to unlock more of the data accumulated about its users during its six-year history. …the recent changes by Facebook fundamentally alter the relationship between users and the social networking site. Before the change, users had control over what information they wished to share publicly and what information they wanted to keep private.

Among other things, Facebook is plugging into other websites so people can communicate their interests with friends, colleagues and acquaintances online. Facebook also changed its own website to create more pages where users’ biographical information could be exposed to a wider audience.

In a statement, Facebook said, “these new products and features are designed to enhance personalization and promote social activity. All of Facebook’s partner sites interact with a user’s consent.”

To opt out of Facebook’s new profile sharing is a multiple step process:

STEP 1: Go to the “Privacy Settings.” Go to “Applications and Web Sites.” Then go to “Instant Personalization Pilot Program,” and hit edit settings.

STEP 2: For all users there’s an automatic check in the box below, which allows Facebook to share your information with other web sites. You are automatically “opted in.” If you do not wish to share this information, uncheck the box.

STEP 3: Even after you’ve done this, it is not clear whether you need to “opt out” at the sites where Facebook is intending to share your information, like Pandora and Yelp, and soon many more sites. So you will want to look at the upper left hand corner of those sites to see whether those sites are recognizing your Facebook account and activity. Here again, you need to opt out.

But a word of caution, as Facebook concedes, your information may still be shared through your friends accounts, unless you block the application from these web sites.

Facebook, apparently responding to Congressional pressure, has already made some changes to this “Instant Personalization Pilot Program,” so you may want to periodically check back in to adjust your settings.

NOTE: This article was published on myfoxdc.com on May 5, 2010.

Reprinted here for educational purposes only. May not be reproduced on other websites without permission from myfoxdc.com. Visit the website at myfoxdc.com.


1.  How many users does Facebook have?

2.  With what websites has Facebook recently begun sharing users’ personal profile information?

3.  What other changes has Facebook recently made to the website?

4.  Even if you block information shared from your site, how could your personal information still be made public?

5.  Do you think Facebook should automatically share your info, and only refrain from doing so if you know about it and go into your settings to opt out?  Explain your answer.

6.  This article states “Facebook wants to make money by selling user information.”  Do you think that is their motive for sharing your info, or is it as Facebook stated, to assist users by “promot[ing] social activity” by sharing your info?  Explain your answer.

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