I’m sure many of you who use Facebook have seen some mention of the new “feature” where instead of simply having all of your interests, schools, workplaces, etc. in your profile be a link to a search for that phrase, they now want you to link all of those to public pages. Thereby making your information by default public, since you won’t be just listing an interest like Photography any more, you’ll be “liking” the Photography page. (You can see where that’s problematic for some people and their information, but they do at least ask you if you want to do it, unlike some other recent features.)
I had seen various mentions of this, so I wasn’t all that surprised when I logged in the other day and looked at my profile, when Facebook hit me with the “hey we’re going to change all the links in your profile, you ok with that, or do you want to choose which ones link?” I decided to take a look at my options, only to discover that I don’t really have many. I can either have the information linked to the “page” of their choice, or remove it from my profile. This was especially problematic to me when it came to my current employer. I do use Facebook to connect with coworkers and industry peers. It’s not “just personal” for me, so having the information about where I work and what I do is important. I don’t want it removed, but since my firm doesn’t have a Facebook page, and my job title doesn’t have a Facebook group for that job title, these are now links to nothing. How is that more helpful than just leaving it as a search?
As far as the other new changes, in terms of automatically sharing information with other sites, and having “like” buttons all over the web, well I’m not thrilled with the opt-out nature of the sharing of personal information, but I’m not going to delete my profile over it. Like it or not, Facebook is now the place I keep in touch with a whole host of people, family, friends, etc. Deleting my profile to protest their privacy policies hurts me more than it hurts them. I’m just careful to only post information there that I wouldn’t care if it got out to the public. Despite all the options to only share certain areas with certain friends, options I do take advantage of somewhat often, I don’t trust Facebook enough to post things that would really be embarrassing to me, and you probably shouldn’t either.