Facebook privacy is still just a myth

Lots has been written about privacy settings on Facebook and every now and again you see a spate of people sending round public messages telling Facebook and their associates that they do not have permission to use personal data. Sadly however this does nothing to prevent them doing it as by using the platform you have already granted consent.

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Recently we tried to update our privacy settings so that Facebook could not make use of recent browsing data to generate its advertising. It took a while but eventually we got to Privacy Settings>App Setting>Apps other use and found this:

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fb privacy

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In summary if you use any apps on Facebook you are opting in to letting people see your personal data. We’re not overly happy about this but more worryingly no matter how hard we looked we couldn’t find a setting that disallowed Facebook from harvesting our browsing data from other websites. It may be there hidden in plain view but all we could see was this

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fc adverts

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Now there is a school of thought, particularly amongst younger users, that this is not a problem. They are happy for people, particularly friends to know what they have been doing and when. But this appears to be a generational attitude and we’ve found that the older people get the less comfortable they become with sharing personal data.

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Yesterday we needed to book a hotel room and did so utilising a range of websites but crucially we did not search on Facebook, did not mention it on Facebook and did not use any apps that have a link to Facebook. In fact Facebook wasn’t even open.  And this morning the adverts on Facebook are all about booking hotel rooms, not only that they are in the location in which we were searching. Coincidence? We think not. Stop it Facebook, or you will find the loss of individual users accelerates faster than you will find comfortable.