What Does Facebook Publish About You?

Ken AshfordSocial Media & NetworkingLeave a Comment

There's been some controversy about the new Facebook changes, and its impact on your privacy.  I touched on it here in this post.

Basically, Facebook made the decision to make some aspects of your Facebook profile available to, well, anything on the Internet — and vice versa.  For example, if John Smith posted a video from Youtube on Facebook — say, a "Single Ladies"/Mayberry mash-up — then Facebook could be making that posting public knowledge, so that Youtube (if it wanted) could program its website to say "John Smith posted this video on Facebook".

In more technical terms, Facebook has developed an API which allows programmers at others websites — any website, really — to pull chunks of data from your Facebook profile (your statuses, groups you belong to, things you have "liked", your pictures, etc.) and incorporate it into their own website.

It's not a new concept.  It's really just cross-posting.  Many people for example crosspost their tweets to become Facebook statuses or vice versa.  The only difference is that it covers more than statuses, and it allows people to reach in and grab that information, rather than you publishing it at places of your choice.

It's really NOT a big deal in my view because — and this is key — the API only grabs things from your profile that you have made available to everyone on Facebook (i.e., things not limited to your "network" of friends and family).  All you need to know is that if something is available to everyone (even non-friends) on Facebook, it is now potentially available to people who aren't even ON Facebook.

But this still leaves many Facebook users uneasy, in part because they don't know what things are open to the public.  So how do you find out what information Facebook is sharing about you? 

Fortunately, there is a handy-dandy little website which uses the Facebook API feature, and shows you just what Facebook is making public.  Simply go here and follow the instructions.  It's a non-Facebook site that grabs everything that Facebook is sharing about you.

If you think something is being made available by Facebook that you don't want to be made available, then go into your Facebook account, and adjust your privacy settings.