Virtual Monopoly

2 May

Over the years Facebook has come in for a fair amount of stick over its privacy policies and settings. Some of it with a certain amount of justification, some not so much.

To me, one of the real problems with Facebook’s privacy settings isn’t one that people would necessarily think of. It speaks to the ways in which people interact with their friends on Facebook and the tools they use to do so.

In your Privacy Settings, under “Apps”, you have a series of check boxes for “Apps others use”.

According to Facebook (quoted on May 2, 2013, in case it changes in the future) “People on Facebook who can see your info can bring it with them when they use apps. This makes their experience better and more social. Use the settings below to control the categories of information that people can bring with them when they use apps, games and websites.”

I understand that people may want to be careful what they let their “friends” see but an unhappy side-effect of this is that locking down the above setting means that your information only shows up on the Facebook website and the official apps. No-one can see what you post if they’re using a social network aggregator like Hoot Suite, or if they’re using a third-party mobile app like Friendcaster. This a pain. At least it is for some of us. The Facebook android app has got better over the years but I still don’t necessarily like to have to use it to make sure that I don’t miss something important. Similarly, I’d be happy enough to be able to keep up with what everyone is posting without needing to go to facebook.com.

Yes, be careful what you let people see on Facebook but let’s not be overcareful. This option ties people into Facebook, creating a virtual monopoly (pun intended).

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