Facebook gets a little too personal

'Instant Personalization' has turned into an instant privacy headache for Facebook. Even the US Senate is complaining about it.

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It also irks me that we're being told these changes to Facebook are somehow beneficial to us. I don't see it. It's very clear to me how sharing more information about our preferences benefits Facebook; it allows them to create larger, more targeted ad campaigns and make more money. How they benefit anyone else is a mystery.

Then there's this lovely quote from Elliot Schrage, vice president of global communications, marketing and public policy for Facebook. In response to a reporter's question, Schrage said the following, which I'm guessing he'll soon regret:

"Facebook is all about sharing information," he said. "Sharing information is, at some level, antithetical to secrecy, antithetical to the idea of privacy. We believe that we bridge the divide between sharing and privacy through the vehicle of [user] control."

So, in case you missed it: Facebook = sharing information = antithetical to privacy. Just so we're clear.

Dear Mr. Schrage:

Just because I share some information does not mean I give up my right to keep other information private. I share many opinions and many of the goofy things I write, often with near or total strangers. But there are things I don't share with these people -- like, say, my social security number, my medical history, or that really embarrassing thing that happened to me in 4th grade. The way Facebook is set up now, though, my "user control" consists of either sharing everything or nothing -- and, oh, by the way, the default is to share everything. Thanks for that.

I predict Facebook is going to have to back down yet again, in Beacon-style fashion, from this scheme. It can't happen soon enough.

No, Dan Tynan will not reveal that embarrassing thing that happened to him in grade school, even if you do offer him $5,000 and an Apple iPad. But he will embarrass himself in countless ways on his geek humor site, eSarcasm.

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