January 02, 2011

Facebook Disconnect

When I open TechCruch, I see a Facebook widget on the page with a listing of my friends who have "liked" TechCrunch.  In addition to enabling me to connect with my friends, this widget tells Facebook every time I read something on TechCruch.  Facebook now knows that, e.g., I am more interested in Android than, say, FourSquare.  Facebook knows so much about me without my permission or willingness to share with Facebook.  Without getting anything from Facebook in return.

Of course, Facebook might show me more relevant ads.  Facebook might provide me a more personalized experience, sure.  But I am not sure if I trust Facebook enough to give that information about myself away.  Plus, I don't even open Facebook frequently nowadays.

Yesterday I was seeing a video about Facebook and privacy and it dawned on me that Facebook has been collecting my information for a long time now!  It's not that I am a privacy freak or anything.  I have been using Google Web History since the day it has been available, and I have found it useful.  Occasionally I search my Google web history to find a page that I once visited but forgotten its URL or search terms to find it again.

But Facebook is not like that.  I have no idea what Facebook will do with my data.  They don't even show me what URLs they have from my browsing history.  And I don't use Facebook as much for them to "personalize" my experience either.  So I went ahead and installed Facebook Disconnect on my Chrome.  I can always rethink my decision later, if there's a need.  For now, Facebook doesn't have to know what I am up to online.

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