Facebook About-Faces on Friends Lists

By: Nicole A. Ozer

Responding to public outcry over Wednesday's new privacy settings, Facebook backtracked today, announcing that it would allow users to hide their list of friends from both visitors to their profile and search results. However, you've still lost the ability to control this information: you can't select specific groups who can see your friends lists (it's either displayed or it isn't) and you can't prevent applications from accessing it no matter what.

We need to continue to push Facebook to reconsider its recent changes and give you full control over your own information. Please sign our new petition demanding that Facebook rethink the new privacy changes and continue to give you more control over your own information.

For more information about all the recent changes, please visit our resource page, What Does Facebook's Privacy Transition Mean for You?

Your Friends List is Still "Publicly Available Information"...

Facebook stubbornly continues to categorize your friends list as "publicly available information." This means that, although you can now "hide" your friends list on your profile, you don't have the same kind of controls that you have over most of your profile information. You can't choose whether to make your list available to "everyone" or "friends of friends" or "just friends" or a custom list of friends - all you can do is either hide it from everyone or make it available to everyone.

That Falls into the App Gap

Since your list of friends is still publicly available information, it falls squarely into the app gap.

As we've pointed out before, the Facebook 'app gap' allows any quiz or application run by you to access information about you and your friends. Even if you take advantage of privacy settings on Facebook, when you take a quiz or run any other application on Facebook, that app can access almost everything in your profile: your religion, sexual orientation, political affiliation, pictures, groups, and now your friends. And these apps may have access to most of the info on your friends' profiles too–which means if your friend takes a quiz, they could be giving away your personal information, even if you've never used an app!

By making your friends list and other pieces of information "publicly available information," Facebook makes it available to any application that you or your friend chooses to run. You no longer have any choice in the matter at all.

Tell Facebook You Want Real Control Over Your Personal Information

These issues show that the current "fix" is once again more of a cosmetic change than a true privacy tool. Facebook publicly stated its commitment to "giving you the tools you need to share and control your information," but its recent privacy changes actually removed privacy controls for some pieces of information and encouraged users to more widely share other personal information.

Please sign in our new petition and tell Facebook that you expect them to live up to that commitment by giving you real control over your friends list and personal information! And check out our resource page, What Does Facebook's Privacy Transition Mean for You?, for up-to-date details on Facebook's privacy controls.

And privacy on Facebook is only one part of a bigger picture. With your help we can build a strong movement for privacy rights on all online sites and services. We hope you'll join us and continue to Demand Your dotRights–your right to control your own personal information in the world of modern technology and online services–as we work together to upgrade privacy protections and give you real control of your personal information. Demand a privacy upgrade Demand Your dotRights!

Facebook Privacy in Transition - But Where Is It Heading

It's Time to Demand Our dotRights!

Take Our Quiz See What Do Facebook Quizzes Know About You!