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How to Protect Your Privacy on Facebook

Wednesday, May 26, 2010


A new feature on Facebook is making it easy for other Web sites to access your personal information—but finding it on your page is no easy task.

Around April 18, Facebook launched the Instant Personalization program and automatically enrolled every existing user.

In a federal class action lawsuit, a Rhode Island man is claiming the social networking site violated users’ privacy by not getting their permission or even telling them about the new feature. Instead of having the choice to opt in, users instead have to opt out—assuming they even know about Instant Personalization, not to mention where to find it.

Here’s how to do it.

1. Log onto your Facebook page. On the upper right corner, click on Account.

2. A drop down menu appears—but don’t jump on “Privacy Settings.” It’s not in there.

3. Instead, click on “Account Settings.” That will bring you to a new page. Scroll down to the bottom, where you see “Privacy” and click on the “Manage” button to the right.

4. That brings you to a new page. Scroll down again, until you see “Applications and Web Sites” and click on it.

5. Now you’re on a third page. Go to the bottom and there it is: “Instant Personalization Pilot Program.” Click on the “Edit Settings” button next to it.

6. This will bring you to a new page (pictured below), which gives a brief explanation of the program. You’ll notice there is a small box already checked off for you at the bottom.

7. If you don’t like the Instant Personalization program uncheck the box.

8. But wait—you’re not done. Facebook sends you a little pop up window asking you if you’re really sure you want to miss out on “a richer, more connected experience as you browse the web.” If you do, click “Confirm.”

9. You’re still not done. Even after withdrawing from the program, third-party Web sites can still view your information through your friends’ pages, according to Peter Wasylyk, a local consumer rights attorney behind the lawsuit. So if this still bothers you, click on the blue text link that says “Learn More.”

10. You’ll get more than 20 options. Keep scrolling down until you see this linked text “How do I opt-out of the instant personalization pilot program?” Click on it.

11. Then you will see a link to the Facebook page for each of the three partner Web sites: Pandora, Yelp, and Docs.com. You have to visit each one and click on “Block Application” on the upper right hand menu to ensure that your friends do not inadvertently share your information with these three sites.


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