What Do New Facebook Features Mean for Your Privacy?

"It shouldn't be a full-time job adjusting your privacy settings on Facebook," said Kurt Opsahl, a senior staff attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation. "It would be nice to see Facebook not only change to an opt-in model where people have control over who gets what information but makes some real promise that that should continue to be the case."

In addition to the opt-in policy, Opsahl said that one of his key issues is the personal information Facebook now considers public.

It used to be that Facebook users could list their interests, activities and other similar information in their profiles and set limits on who could see them (from only certain friends to everyone).

But under Facebook's new system, information users list under "Likes and Interests" in their profile automatically connects them to a Page and lists them on that Page, and that information is now considered public. If you list your college and work information in the provided profile boxes, that information also connects you to public Pages.

Let's say you list pandas under your "Likes and Interests," even if you limit who can see that when they visit your Facebook page, you're still publicly listed on a Community Page that aggregates all people on Facebook who like pandas.

The only way to keep interests, activities and other personal information private is to include it in the bio section of your profile page, Facebook said.

In a blog post explaining the new Pages, Facebook software engineer Alex Li said profiles no longer include "boring" static text listing likes and interests.

"Now they are a living map of all the connections that matter to you," he said.

But though Facebook says the pages are meant to enhance online communities, EFF's Opsahl asked, "How does it advantage you the user to be one of the 3 million names listed on the cooking page?"

"It's too much information for ordinary people to look through. The people advantaged by it are data miners and advertisers," he said.

Opsahl also said it worried him that Facebook is moving away from a system that only let partners store data for 24 hours, to a system that lets them store data indefinitely.

"What that means is that you have to trust these applications or these Web sites -- not only trust what they are now, but what they are ever going to be," he said.

On Facebook blog posts explaining the new changes, scores of Facebook users have expressed their unease with the changes. Last week, social media blogs noticed a Facebook status message instructing users on how to opt-out of the features sweep the site.

But Adam Ostrow, editor-in-chief of social media blog Mashable, an ABCNews.com partner, said that the user reaction to these changes has not been as negative as responses to previous changes.

Though some users have complained about the changes across the Web, he emphasized that members have not yet opted for a popular protest tactic -- Facebook pages denouncing the changes.

"From what we're seeing, it doesn't seem like a backlash anywhere near the proportions of other times Facebook has tried to push the envelope on privacy," he said.

While the new changes make a couple of pieces of data more public, they don't dramatically change things, he said.

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