Facebook has clearly grown weary of losing business-oriented members to social networking rival LinkedIn, and have decided to do something about it.
That paradigm has existed almost since social networking began and has developed into something of a lore. Popular, social searches happen on Facebook, but when it’s time to get serious and “grow up”, you move over to LinkedIn.
Branchout is a new Facebook application that seeks to add career networking to the Facebook universe. According to TechCrunch, “the application unlocks massive amounts of career data about my friends and friends of friends that was just impossible to get to before.”
This application allows you to search by company name to discover which of your friends work there, or used to work there. If they have also downloaded the application, then you can see which of their friends are also part of that company. This information could of course lead to a referral and a job. BranchOut believes that 80% of all job opportunities are the direct result of networking with friends.
Downloading the application is an interesting exercise. I did not know that one of my friends worked at Disney, one at NBC Universal, and another at the World Bank. Suddenly I am more impressed with my friends. I did, however, know that six of my friends worked “at freelance.”
BranchOut is a great idea and a welcome addition to the Facebook application family. The job boards, insider tips and additional information will, no doubt, come in handy. But it does rely on your friends keeping their work info up-to-date, which is often not the case.
As it is with so much of Facebook, they are offering a handy, clever app that will suit the masses who use it, but for detailed and comprehensive business searches, the specialised focussed nature of LinkedIn is still a superior service.
Less than 24 hours after we first covered Facebook’s decision to limit landing tabs within Facebook Pages to “authenticated” admins, the company has appeared to revert back to the original permissions, making landing tabs available for anybody. The change was rapidly criticized by more Page administrators who use landing tabs as an easy way to convert new visitors into fans.
While we’ve reached out to the company for clarification about whether or not this change back to the original settings is permanent, we still haven’t heard back from the company regarding their policy on the new “authenticated Pages”. We’ll be sure to update if we hear more from Facebook, however there’s no doubt that many Page administrators will be grateful that Facebook has stepped back from what would otherwise be a permanently damaging change.
Facebook’s motivation behind the change wasn’t exactly clear, however we speculated that it was to reduce spam and potentially increase revenue. For Facebook to make such a significant change without any formal notice, aside from an update to the developer forum, is pretty significant. At this point Facebook appears to have gone back to the original settings, enabling anybody to set a custom tab as the landing tab, however we’ll have to wait to hear back from Facebook to confirm that this change is permanent.
Facebook’s Public Policy Director, Tim Sparapani, spoke with Kojo Nnamdi today in Washington, D.C. and stated that the company would soon release simple privacy settings in the coming weeks. In addition to defending the company’s position for providing an extensive number of privacy settings (a position which is legitimate), Sparapani stated that there will be “simplistic bands of privacy that [users can choose from” in the “next couple weeks”.
Given that the company has come under significant pressure over the past couple weeks over new programs, including the highly controversial “Instant Personalization” program, it’s not surprising to hear Sparapani announce these features. What’s even more significant is that from the sounds of things, these “simple” privacy settings sounds as though they’ve most likely been in the works for a short period of time.
What I’m still wondering is why Mark Zuckerberg or any other executive haven’t made a formal announcement stating that they are listening. While representatives of the company’s communications department have stated that the company is listening and will effectively do the right thing, no formal statement has come from Mark Zuckerberg.
Perhaps this is a test of Mark’s ability to delegate some of the communication to the general public, however I’m pretty sure that most people want to hear that the company is listening from Mark’s own mouth (or at least a blog post under his name). While we are still waiting to hear from the company about the potential for making changes to the “Instant Personalization” program, just knowing that they are looking to simplify the privacy settings further is definitely reassuring.
If you want to listen to the full interview with Tim Sparapani, you can listen to it here. Do you find Facebook’s announcement of impending changes reassuring? Do you think the changes will be sufficient?
Since posting about Facebook's latest privacy rollback, we've received emails asking how users can protect themselves, and for clarification about what happened. Here, then, is a quick guide to locking down the new Facebook.
First off, one big caveat: It is simply impossible to have the old Facebook experience with the old level of privacy. If you want the old level of privacy, you're going to have to give up some functionality; if you want all the old functionality, you're going to have to give up some privacy. Below, we detail what you'd need to do to maximize privacy, so you can decide for yourself whether to go down that road.
Remove your "connections," e.g. education and work, current city, likes and interests
Facebook is in the process of rolling out a new system of "connections" that publicly shares information whose disclosure you used to be able to control through privacy settings, "including your current city, hometown, education and work, and likes and interests."
The sharing of this information will happen after Facebook prompts you—if it hasn't already—to convert data entries in your profile into "connections" to pages representing various places, groups, interests, political causes, and so on. But unlike in the past, when you could choose to shield who saw your interest in, say, pot legalization, this information will now be public, and your account would be linked from the pot legalization interest page.
In short, as the Electronic Frontier Foundation put it, "Facebook removed its users' ability to control who can see their own interests and personal information"
To keep this information private, you need to opt out of the "connections" Facebook offers you. The relevant information will then be missing from the appropriate section of your profile, so you'll need to stuff it all into your free-form "Bio."
At some point when you visit your Facebook profile, you'll see the dialog below. Click on the far left button, "Choose pages individually:"
Then uncheck any "connections" you don't want made public. Make a note of these connections, since they'll be removed from your profile and you may want to add them to your "Bio" later.
Once you've opted out, you can restore any information you'd like to selectively share into the "bio" section of your profile, the free-form text area of your profile under your photo. Before you enter data there, make sure you're happy with the privacy settings for that section. Click on "Account" on the top right of your profile page, select "Privacy settings" from the drop-down, then "Profile Information." "Bio" privacy settings will be listed on the first line.
Prune — or utterly nuke — your apps
Facebook recently lifted some privacy restrictions on how outside developers handle Facebook data. Previously they could only retain said data for 24 hours, now they can hold on to the data as long as they like. Facebook used to prompt users before sharing data with a partner site, but, as VentureBeat points out, it will no longer do so for "special" partners like Yelp, Pandora and Microsoft. Also, some Facebook sharing that needed two or three pop-up dialogs to authorize now require just one.
The changes are even riskier than they appear, as ReadWriteWeb said: Now that non-Facebook websites are allowed to hoard Facebook user data, said sites will become inviting targets for hackers. And it's your Facebook data the hackers will be after. Of course, you have to worry about more than just computer crackers, since there's not much enforcement over how even authorized Facebook developers use the data they collect. If they want to mislead you and misappropriate your data, they can — and given the track record of Facebook's partners, they just might. If that happens, have fun suing for your privacy back.
Prevention is better than damage control, of course, and the one security measure at your disposal is to whittle or eliminate the outside apps you choose to share data with. Lifehacker's Kevin Purdy put together a nice guide on this, which we'll crib from here:
Go to "Account" at the top-right of your profile page. Select "Application settings" from the drop-down. Then from the "Show" menu select "Authorized." Click to enlarge:
Click the "X" next to any app you don't use, don't trust or otherwise want to remove. After clicking "X" you'll have to click "Remove" and then "Okay." For any app you choose to keep, you should probably review its privacy settings by clicking "Edit Settings" and the "Additional permissions" tab. Uncheck any sharing feature you're not comfortable with, although be aware this could break the app's Facebook functionality.
(Pic: Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg at his company's F8 developers conference yesterday. Getty Images.)
Send an email to Ryan Tate, the author of this post, at email@example.com.
At Facebook’s F8 Developer Conference today, the company fleshed out its plans to become the social center of the web. With the new Open Graph API and protocol and the ability to integrate websites and web apps within your existing social network, the platform will become more robust than ever before.
The potential for this new technology is great — which is why partners like Yelp, Pandora and Microsoft have already jumped on board. But what does all of this interconnected data mean for user privacy?
Now that sites and apps can better integrate directly with Facebook in more than just a tangential way, the potential for privacy issues grows substantially.
What Is Changing?
In the past, apps that accessed data from the Facebook APIs could only store that data for 24 hours. This meant that apps and app developers would have to download user information day after day, just to keep up with the policy. Now the data storage restriction is gone, so if you tell an app it can store your data, it can keep it without worrying about what was basically an arbitrary technical hurdle.
While this might sound scary, it doesn’t actually impact how developers can use user data, just how long they can store it. Again, many developers were just hacking around this policy anyway, so users shouldn’t notice any changes.
Facebook is also getting rid of its Facebook Connect branding. Instead, Facebook login modules will be available to site owners, and users can not only log in or sign up for a service, but can also see how many of their friends have also signed up for the site.
Now, this new feature is cool — as is the universal Likes and customized content additions — but it also makes what you designate as “public” potentially more public.
While the login boxes and activity feeds that appear on websites will be customized for each user (meaning that what I see on a page will differ from what fellow reporter Jenn Van Grove sees), this information is potentially more easily viewable than it was before. It’s not like your Facebook friends couldn’t see this information in the past, it’s just now a lot more contextual and available in more places.
Privacy Will Become the User’s Responsibility
I took a look at the different documentations of the Open Graph API and the different social plugins, and gathered that the data collection and overall privacy settings don’t differ from what has already been available. Again, what changes is how that data can be displayed to different people and how it can be integrated in different ways.
Nevertheless, it is imperative that users who have concerns about privacy make sure they read and understand what information they are making available to applications before using them. Users need to be aware that when they “Like” an article on CNN, that “Like” may show up on a customized view that their friends see.
Public no longer means “public on Facebook,” it means “public in the Facebook ecosystem.” Some companies, like Pandora, are going to go to great lengths to allow users to separate or opt out of linking their Pandora and Facebook accounts together, but users can’t expect all apps and sites to take that approach. My advice to you: Be aware of your privacy settings.
What isn’t yet clear is if there will be any granular permissions for public data. For instance, I might want to share that I “Like” a CNN.com article with a certain group of people, but not make it public to my entire social graph. For now, users need to assume that if you do something that is considered public, that action can potentially end up on a customized stream for everyone in your social graph.
How Facebook Can Avoid Getting Burned
Because there aren’t really any changes in policy with the Open Graph system, Facebook will likely avoid any massive privacy violations; after all, if you agreed to make something public, it’s public. However, as Google learned with Google Buzz, users aren’t always aware of their default privacy settings.
Facebook can offset a lot of confusion and concern by doing a good job of educating users about the meaning of “public” and how the personalized feeds will work on various websites.
Developers can also help by making what information they collect and what information can be shared throughout the social graph more accessible and easier to understand.
Right now, it really doesn’t look like Open Graph will have any technical changes to Facebook user privacy. That said, the nature of how public information can be linked across different sites is now more robust, which makes it that much more important for the privacy-concerned to read the fine print.
What do you think of the privacy implications with Open Graph? Let us know!
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cool promotion. will be interesting to see if the core marshalls shopper engages - or is it an attempt to broaden the base?
Marshalls is launching a unique Facebook campaign for the next three weeks where people are asked to sign up as fans, take quizzes and earn keys to unlock a free $5,000 wardrobe. The concept was designed by Hill Holiday and represents yet another big brand moving into Facebook.The campaign involves users first signing up as a fan for Marshalls at the Marshalls’ Facebook Page. The contest starts each Thursday, where fans play a quiz based on the campaign’s online videos. Completing the quiz gets you the key, and for each key earned, $1 is donated to the Dress for Success charity.
Then, as Wednesday hits, key holders are reminded to come back to the fan page to try their key between noon and midnight Eastern time to see if it unlocks a ‘virtual wardrobe’ worth $1000. 25 keyholders also win $50 gift cards.
According to HH:
The campaign culminates on Wednesday, April 28th at noon (eastern) with a live, interactive “virtual grand prize event” streamed from NYC and brought to everyone viaUstream. Fashion-wise shoppers can watch and participate in the event on Marshalls’ Facebook Page, marshallsonline.com, and various fashion influencer blogs where theUstream player and social stream will be embedded.
HH also talks about some of their more interesting features of the campaign:
- TV spots are not only tagged with a “drive to” Marshalls’ Facebook page but include a voiceover mention aimed to increase receptivity to go online and engage.
- For each week’s kickoff, we’ve created a 24 hour media stunt to help grab attention and invite consumers to Marshall’s Facebook page to earn their key. Check out perezhilton.com today as we’ve skinned the site as one big Marshalls shopportunity.
- We’re using Facebook engagement ads in two ways. First, the “become a Fan” video engagement ads will showcase the week’s shopportunity video (a “behind the scenes” extension of the TV spot). And, second, the “become a Fan” event ads will enable Marshalls’ to invite others outside their Facebook page to the April 28th live event.