Facebook's current policy says: "When you use an application, your content and information is shared with the application." Its proposed revision amends that line to: "When you or others who can see your content and information use an application, your content and information is shared with the application."
The idea that apps your friends install can access your information disturbed many of Facebook's commenters. As one put it: "Strongly disagree -- why should I be dragged into apps my friends are involved with?"
You already are. Facebook's current terms allow apps to tap into all of the information that the app's users have access to, Facebook spokesman Andrew Noyes told CNNMoney. [Links in original--E.M.]
Honest question: if Facebook's name more accurately reflected the kind of business it really is--if it had been called something like "Internet Advertising/Marketing Data Collection Service" or something along those lines, would any of us have ever signed up in the first place?
I'm sure that some people still would have done so because they or their families and friends find the quick "information dump" style of Facebook communication convenient and time-saving in their busy lifestyles. Other people would still have signed up for the fun and games, the quick and easy connections with the people they haven't seen since high school, and so on. But I think that many of us would have stayed away, and many more would have joined only hesitantly and with careful control over the friends they accepted, the types of apps they used, and the level and kind of personal, shopping, and lifestyle information they shared not only with their friends and families but with third-party advertisers who pay Facebook a ton of money to have the kind of targeted consumer access that previous generations of advertisers could only have dreamed about.
Instead, many people are only really realizing long after the fact that social networks such as Facebook exist to sell them: their information, their habits, their shopping choices, their lifestyles, and anything else that can be turned over for a profit, that is, to the highest bidders.
Maybe in this age in which that kind of data is ubiquitous and easily collected by people lots scarier than mere advertisers, it's a bit silly to worry about overexposure on Facebook. But then again, maybe it's still a good idea to step back and decide, from time to time, whether the social networks we use are taking much, much more than they are giving, and whether our use of them is still a good thing. And maybe it's time for me to get around to requesting that account deletion...