Facebook Instant Personalization – Reason for Worry?

Facebook Instant Personalization was launched in April of 2010 and is now gradually being rolled out. As one might expect, the media has ratcheted up the Facebook privacy hype. Just the facts, please.

Facebook Instant Personalization – Should you be worried?

Facebook instant personalization. Is there reason to worry? No hype, just the facts please.
Facebook instant personalization. Is there reason to worry? No hype, just the facts please.

Facebook instant personalization, was launched back in April of 2010, and is now gradually being rolled out, so as one might expect, the media has ratcheted up the Facebook privacy hype. You may have noticed a lot of Facebook status updates in my newsfeed indicating the need to disable Facebook instant personalization. The status post goes like this “As of today, the New FB Privacy setting called “Instant Personalization” goes into effect. The new setting shares your data with non-Facebook websites & it is automatically set to “Enabled”. Go to Account > Privacy Settings > Apps & Websites > Instant Personalization >edit settings & uncheck “Enable”. BTW If your friends don’t do this, they will be sharing info about you as well. Please copy and repost.” The question many users are faced with, is Facebook instant personalization something to be worried about, especially since the default option is enabled?

Facebook Instant Personalization is like the Facebook Connect service with respect to providing third-party websites use of your Facebook profile information. However, Facebook instant personalization is different than Facebook connect in that you don’t have to sign in to the service as Facebook does it automatically for you. In practice, how this works is, If you are logged into Facebook from within an browser session and then visit one of the Facebook Instant Personalization partner sites, you’ll receive a notification the first time that “personalization” is going on. You will be prompted with the option to disable it, and if you don’t, Facebook instant personalization will run and personalize that partner website to you based on information from your Facebook profile.

Who is Facebook Instant Personalization Sharing is my Information with?

A question often asked is whether or not Facebook instant personalization shares your profile information to each and every website on the Internet. The short answer is no. In fact, Facebook instant personalization currently is configured to work with the following Facebook partner sites: www.bing.com, www.tripadvisor.com, www.clicker.com, www.rottentomatoes.com, www.pandora.com, www.yelp.com, www.docs.com, and www.scribd.com.

Facebook instant personalization partner bing Facebook instant personalization partner RottenTomatoes.com
Facebook instant personalization partner clickr.com
Facebook instant personalization partner Docs.com Facebook instant personalization partner Pandora.com
Facebook instant personalization partner Yelp.com Facebook instant personalization partner Scribd.com

What information is shared with Facebook instant personalization supported sites?

Another question that’s often asked is whether or not Facebook shares all of the information that it collects on you from your profile and usage in shares that information using Facebook instant personalization. Again, the short answer is no. In fact, Facebook instant personalization only shares Public information including your name, profile picture, gender, networks, and other information shared with everyone. This may put some minds at ease.

How is my Facebook profile information used by instant personalization supported sites?

Another popular question about Facebook Instant Personalization is how my personal information will be used. According to Facebook, “Your information can only be used to present you with a more personalized experience and cannot be transferred to advertisers or used for any other purposes.” Now all repeat after me, “targeted advertising.” Since Facebook is a free service to its users, some would agree that it’s reasonable for Facebook to offer targeted advertising to enrich their ad-supported business model and available advertising inventory. Targeting not only adds value to the user and their experience in terms of viewing relevant ads, but also adds value to Facebook and advertisers by providing highly targeted ads with presumably higher conversion rates.

Facebook positions the Facebook instant personalization services value proposition as follows: “See your friends’ reviews first when you search for a movie to watch. Hear your favorite songs automatically when you visit a music site. Experience a Web tailored to you and your friends.” Sounds pretty innocuous to me. See Facebook instant personalization positioning video using Rotten Tomatoes and Facebook [HQ] .)

Rotten Tomatoes and Facebook
Rotten Tomatoes and Facebook – Click image to see a Facebook Instant Personalization video using Rotten Tomatoes and Facebook

On Facebook’s instant personalization information page, the following text is located next to a lock icon providing those concerned about privacy to get more information about how to disable instant personalization altogether. The disclaimer reads as follows: “You control what information is available to these partners by managing the information set in your privacy settings. Or you can turn off instant personalization altogether, at which time your information will no longer be instantly available to any partner sites. Find out more about instant personalization in the Help Center.”

What Now?

In summary, Facebook instant personalization probably poses less of a threat than sharing your real birth date including month day and year or posting a status updates indicating that your family is away from vacation (i.e. house empty, no surveillance, dogs in kennel, crooks welcome). What it boils down to is understanding what information is shared, who it is shared with, and for what purpose. Facebook users who are uncomfortable with their instant personalization service, or if the value proposition does not justify sharing the information, simply disable it. Otherwise, accept the default setting of enabled, and give Facebook instant personalization a test spin before caving to the media sensationalism of Facebook privacy concerns.


Rick Noel is an experienced digital marketer enabling businesses and organizations to grow through the Internet, while maximizing marketing ROI (Return On Investment). Rick is the CEO and Co-Founder of eBiz ROI, Inc., a full-service digital marketing agency located in Ballston Lake, NY.

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