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The Facebook Trap: How Do You Stay Connected Without Compromising Your Own Privacy?

Illustration for article titled The Facebook Trap: How Do You Stay Connected Without Compromising Your Own Privacy?

Over-sharing on Facebook is nothing new; there are several sites devoted to highlighting the worst offenders. But now that Facebook's privacy settings are changing, even those who don't fit the typical Facebook over-sharing mode are scaling back their online presence.

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As Laura M. Holson of the New York Times writes, "The conventional wisdom suggests that everyone under 30 is comfortable revealing every facet of their lives online, from their favorite pizza to most frequent sexual partners. But many members of the tell-all generation are rethinking what it means to live out loud." Part of the move toward a more censored online existence, Holson notes, is the rapidly evolving state of Facebook's privacy policies, which, over the past five years or so, have continually moved away from allowing users to control all aspects of their profiles to making certain parts of one's profile automatically—and irreversibly, in some cases—public.

And though you can attempt to maintain at least a bare-bones Facebook presence by deleting as much personal info as you can and opting out of Facebook's new partnerships with Yelp and Pandora and such, it's hard to walk away completely, as (for now, anyway), Facebook does often seem to be the easiest way to keep in touch with people you don't talk to very often. It's incredibly irritating that Facebook has become such an indispensable mode of communication; it often seems like it's somewhat required to have a Facebook profile just to appear to have an actual presence on Earth—invitations, news, and connections pass you by if you're not a part of that easily-contacted world. And so for many, the trick is to maintain some sense of privacy while putting your trust in the hands of a company that shows very little respect for it.

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The good thing about Facebook's privacy changes, however, is that they are a reminder to users to take responsibility for the things they post on the internet; if you don't want a future employer to see a picture of you drunk and riding a plastic horse while wearing a Robin Hood costume, you might not want to put it on the internet for anyone else to see, either, you know? Unless, of course, your future employer is "Drunk Robin Hood Pony Express," and then you should create a fan page in order to boost your chances of getting hired.

So what say you, commenters? How do you maintain your privacy while also maintaining a public presence in the online world?

The Tell-All Generation Learns When Not To, At Least Online [NYTimes]

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DISCUSSION

janegalaxy-old
JaneGalaxy

What's been worrying me are the most recent changes, which allow websites not even affiliated with Facebook to glom onto my profile and harvest my information.

Case in point: I have a Facebook account. I have an account here on Jezebel. I looked through the Application Settings on Facebook and saw that the Jezebel Facebook Application suddenly had access to my profile.

I love Jezebel. I love commenting here, I'm very proud of my star, it's a great place to be. But I have never listed Jezebel as one of my interests, I've never been in its group or added its page or an application. There is no reason for any of my friends and family to know that I'm on here because that's my choice.

Because I was logged into Jezebel at the same time that I was logged into Facebook, that gave the Jezebel FB Application permission (in Facebook's opinion) to have access to me. No, it didn't have "active" access or whatever, but the point is that no one ever asked me for permission to do that.

This is true for all Gawker sites, and a lot of other sites now. If you visit Fleshbot without private browsing turned on—guess what, they've got access to you on Facebook.