What it sounds like in the proposed policy change outline is that third-party sites will be able to use a person's browser cookies to automatically sign them into Facebook Connect:
Today, when you use applications such as games on Facebook.com or choose to connect to Facebook on sites across the web, you are able to find and interact with your friends. These applications require a small set of basic information about you in order to provide a relevant experience. After feedback from many of you, we announced in August that we were moving toward a model that gives you clearer controls over what data is shared with applications and websites when you choose to use them.
This move feels a bit similar to when Facebook quietly made their 'Everyone' setting a default toward the end of last year. The setting made user content available to not just everyone on Facebook, but everyone on the entire Internet—including search engines and third-party sites.
And though Facebook proudly told the Federal Trade Commission that 35% of their users had noticed the popup indicating a policy change and adjusted their personal settings accordingly, that still left 65% in the dark. Social Media researcher Danah Boyd made the following observation during her keynote at this year's SXSW conference:
…I started asking non-techy users about their privacy settings on Facebook. I ask them what they think their settings are and then ask them to look at their settings with me. I have yet to find someone whose belief matched up with their reality. That is not good news. Facebook built its name and reputation on being a closed network that enabled privacy in new ways, something that its users deeply value and STILL believe is the case.
Absolutely Positively Connected
We admit, it's nice to have one-click access to third-party sites. Proof can be found in the popularity surrounding Facebook Connect, as well as the big names that've followed suit with the technology, such as Twitter and their upcoming @anywhere feature.
“The right way to think about this is not like a new experience but as making the [Facebook] Connect experience even better and more seamless," said Barry Schnitt, Senior Manager, Corporate Communications and Public Policy at Facebook in an e-mail to ReadWriteWeb. "People love personalized and social experiences and that’s why Facebook and Facebook Connect have been so successful. We think there are some instances where people would benefit from this experience as soon as they arrive on a small number of trusted websites that we pre-approve.”
Then again, Boyd's talk on privacy struck a chord in a lot of people. Sure, we all appreciate one-click action, but that doesn't mean we want zero-click action.
Additional rumors about upcoming stuff from Facebook include the infamous "Like" function being spread out to sites outside of the social networking platform. Imagine everything you enjoy on the Web, no matter what site it's on, feeding back into your Facebook stream. The benefits for all sides are obvious.
Though details aren't rock solid, it's obvious that Facebook is working on spreading its tentacles out to the far reaches of the Web and everywhere in between with as little permission from its users as possible. Which side of the fence are you on? Read through the latest privacy change proposal and let us know.