The 8 Most Important Ways to Protect Your Identity and Privacy on Facebook: #5

Security & Privacy

Turn off Instant Personalization and audit your apps.

In 2010, Facebook began sharing users account information along with profile pictures with sites including Yelp, Rotten Tomatoes and Bing. These partner sites then serve Facebook users public information from the users’ friends.

Facebook calls this Instant Personalization. And you’re probably already using it on the following sites:

Do you LOVE seeing all of your Facebook friends’ activity on any web site you visit? Then keep Instant Personalization on and simply opt out of each site you don’t want to have access to your Facebook account individually. Otherwise, I recommend you do the following now.

How to turn Instant Personalization and Audit Your Apps

  1. Go to Account and click on Privacy Settings.
  2. Below Apps and Websites click “Edit your settings”.
  3. Under Instant Personalization click Edit Settings.
  4. Close the video, unless you have a lot of spare time.
  5. Uncheck the box next to “Enable instant personalization at partner websites”.
  6. Click Back to Apps.
  7. Under “Apps you use” click Edit Setting.
  8. Click the little blue x next to any app you aren’t using.
  9. Don’t worry if you remove an app you still use, you can add it again later.

Here’s why you should turn Instant Personalization off

A general principle of privacy is you should not give anyone who you do not need to have access to your data. This is why if you’re not using an app, that app’s developers do not need access to your account.

The problem with Instant personalization is that Facebook makes the choice about which third-parties get access to your information. Additionally, Facebook makes it too difficult to turn Instant Personalization off—especially if you’re trying to shut off one partner but not the others.  This is good for a social experience but a privacy problem.

You may now be sharing information with people you didn’t mean to ever see it. Do you want your boss to see your scathing review of microbrewery? Do you need your child’s babysitter seeing that you liked the movie Borat when she’s searching on Bing?

Facebook will be adding more and more sites to Instant Personalization. Doing so is crucial because they have to make as many of your favorite sites social before a competitor like Google+ does it first.

We know Facecbook has the incentive to share. But do you?

The 8 Most Important Ways to Protect Your Identity and Privacy on Facebook

  1. Unless you have a good reason not to, use the “Friends Only” privacy setting.
  2. Turn on Secure Browsing.
  3. Secure your account.
  4. Control how the world sees you via Facebook.
  5. Turn off Instant Personalization and audit your apps.
  6. Watch where you click.
  7. Decide if you want your name and image to appear in Facebook ads.
  8. Start using Facebook lists.


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