Web-savvy bloggers chewing their fingernails for fear of the leading social
network's future plans, some of which may kick into action at the company's F8
developer conference next month.
Facebook March 26 said
that it wants to begin working with partner Website publishers to offer a
"more personalized experience at the moment you visit the site."
This happens to be code for letting third-party Websites access and use users'
Facebook data without prior consent. In Web app parlance, that means no opt-in.
Today, people who use applications that connect to Facebook from Facebook
Connect can find and interact with their friends. These connections require
basic information about users, such as name and gender.
the possibility of working with some partner Websites that we preapprove to
offer a more personalized experience at the moment you visit the site."
According to the policy (here
and with future changes redlined), Facebook will share general information
about users, including your and your friends' names, profile pictures, gender,
connections, and any content shared using the Everyone privacy setting.
Facebook would only introduce this feature with a small group of partners
and would also offer plenty of controls to let users opt out.
Still, bloggers from TechCrunch and ReadWriteWeb, who expect that these
changes are timed for the F8 conference April 21, immediately pounced on this
as an example of Facebook trying to push the privacy boundaries. TechCrunch's
Jason Kincaid noted
"We've heard that select Facebook partners will now be able to look for
your existing Facebook cookie to identify you, even if you never opted into
Facebook Connect on the site you're visiting. Using that, the third party site
will be able to display your friends and other key information. It's possible
that these sites will also be able to display any data you've shared with
'everyone,' which is of course now the default option on Facebook."