July 02, 2010, 11:35 PM — You probably haven’t noticed yet, but Facebook just made itself a scosh more private this week. You might assume this was in response to that letter a dozen privacy groups sent to Facebook last month. You’d be wrong. It was actually in response to requests made by the Office of the Privacy Commissioner in Canada. Last August. Yes, that’s right, almost a year ago.
And people think Facebook doesn’t give a damn about their privacy. That ought to show them.
[ See also: Facebook's privacy controls are seriously broken ]
What are these changes, exactly? As Facebook’s Brett Taylor describes in a blog post, Facebook has added a spankin’ new authorization process when you install an app:
“With this new authorization process, when you log into an application with your Facebook account, the application will only be able to access the public parts of your profile by default. To access the private sections of your profile, the application has to explicitly ask for your permission.”
What this means in practical terms: If the app wants access to more information than what any stranger can find by searching for you by name, it needs to toss up a splash screen asking for permission. Like this one for FamilyTree:
FamilyTree also tosses up other permission screens as well – like when it wants to post something to your wall or access your news feed.
Hey, that’s an improvement, isn’t it? Well, actually, no. Not much anyway. Your choice is the same as it was back when these apps accessed this information without telling you; either you accept these restrictions and install the app, or you don’t and you decline. There’s no way to say ‘yes, you can have your way with this information you saucy little app, but you can’t access that information.’ It’s kind of like being pregnant; either you is or you ain’t.