Facebook to share your data with “pre-approved” third-party sites?

Facebook released a plan to revise its privacy policy again. Among the features they propose to incorporate is one that made a lot of people raise their voices in opposition, because it includes sharing your “General information” – your and your friends’ names, profile pictures, gender, connections, and any content shared using the Everyone privacy setting – with third-party websites that they pre-approve.

The draft of the policy says that you will be able to opt-out of all these sites, but what really got people upset is that your information is – by default – shared with those sites. Many people chose to share their opinion about the feature with Facebook, and it is overwhelmingly negative. They don’t mind the feature per se, but the fact that it is “opt-out” by default. They think it should be the opposite. And what about all those people who are not as aware of privacy as they should be and will not even bother to read the final announcement regarding the implementation of the feature or, if they do, will not understand the implications?

Facebook claims that its goal is to “give you more ways to connect and share with your friends, not just on Facebook but also around the web” and that user control over privacy remains essential to their innovation process and that they will continue to develop new tools to help you control the things you share on Facebook.

They can repeat that a thousand times, but it will not make it true. Facebook – or any other social network, for that matter – was not primarily created to help you stay in touch with your family and friends. The primary goal of every economic enterprise is to make as much money as possible, and this is where sharing your information comes into the equation, because this is how you pay for the fact that a service is free.

Just because Facebook claims that most other web services would implement such changes without telling the users about it, doesn’t immediately make me want to say: “Awww! Facebook is so good. Because they notified me of the changes, I’ll trust them completely whatever they do.” But, let me reserve my final judgement for when the proposed changes really do take place. I will be happy if they prove me wrong and scrap the idea or make the feature “opt-in” on account of all the people who asked for it.

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