Facebook Will Stop at Nothing to Make You More Social

The next time you post a picture or update your status on Facebook, stop and ask yourself who you think will be seeing it. If you answered, “My friends,” then you’d be correct. However, what you may not realize, unless you’ve customized your privacy settings lately, is that Facebook’s ever-evolving privacy policy is becoming more and more lenient as social networking rapidly grows each day. Therefore, in addition to your friends, other users may be able to view your photos and status updates as well. Factor in Facebook’s new Open Graph, and users are being publicized more than ever in many ways they may not even realize.

Facebook is notorious for adjusting user privacy settings, consequently resetting personal profile settings in the process. What this has meant for users is that, all of a sudden, their profile privacy settings have essentially been lifted, allowing non-friends to view content on their profiles. In order to restore previous privacy settings, Facebook users must go into their settings and specify the degree of privacy they would prefer. This has been the case time and time again, with many users complaining about the setting changes, but ultimately complying with the changes and simply going with the flow.

If Facebook was content with its current position as a popular social networking site, users wouldn’t have anything else to worry about other than adjusting their settings every few months. However, as the world’s largest social network, Facebook is constantly looking for ways to attract users and expand its market share. After a partnership was struck with Microsoft late last year, Facebook has branched out into local search, but doing so in an all encompassing way that is sure to alter the landscape of social networking and search for years to come. That is, Facebook recently announced the creation of its Open Graph, which attempts to blanket a user’s internet experience under Facebook’s social networking portal.

Facebook’s Open Graph is relatively straightforward. The social networking site has partnered with 30 websites, all of which are now inherently linked to Facebook via “Like” buttons. If a Facebook user navigates to IMDB.com, for instance, and searches a film, that film will have a Facebook “Like” button attached to it. While IMDB.com remains its own website, Facebook now has a presence there as it does amongst the other partnering sites. What this means for users is simple: some of the internet’s most popular sites are now connected to Facebook, which means that Facebook is connected to those sites as well. Information shared on the social networking juggernaut is more or less shared amongst partnering sites (unless of course users go into their settings and adjust their privacy accordingly). Users now have to be even more vigilant in regard to their personal information being shared and made public.

According to a Reuters article, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg believes that “people have really gotten comfortable not only sharing more information and different kinds, but more openly and with more people.” This may explain why Facebook persists in repeatedly adjusting privacy settings. While user complaints seem to indicate that we are in fact uncomfortable with sharing our information, Facebook continues to expand and change the way it shares user information. Even Google, the undisputed king of Internet search has taken notice as of late, introducing its own social networking site, Google Buzz, in an attempt to take a bite out of Facebook’s market share. But, with more than 400 million users worldwide, Facebook doesn’t seem to mind Google’s foray into the social networking market. After all, despite user complaints about privacy settings, the site continues to acquire new users each day, and maintains its strive towards a more social Internet experience. How social do you want to be on the internet?

My suggestion is to check your privacy settings once a week…. just to be on the safe side…

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