Protect Your Privacy Opt Out of Facebook’s New Instant Personalization – Yes You Have to Opt Out

Facebook does it again! I see this when I check my page today.

Connect with your friends on your favorite websites.


Sounds great. Sounds suspicious. So like a good little librarian I click on the link at the bottom Learn More with “Understand Your Privacy” in small type beneath it. Which takes me to a page telling me how great the new service is.  All the way down at the bottom I see this:


Yes I can easily opt out, not opt in, opt out. Click here indeed!

When I unchecked the box I got this box telling me how sad & lonely my internet experience will be without Instant Personalization.


Except wait, what’s that bit at the end? What the?

Allowing instant personalization will give you a richer experience as you browse the web. If you opt-out, you will have to manually activate these experiences. Please keep in mind that if you opt out, your friends may still share public Facebook information about you to personalize their experience on these partner sites unless you block the application.

When I click on “Learn More” I go to this page, where I finally find

How do I opt-out of instant personalization?
You can opt-out of instant personalization by disallowing it here. By clicking “No Thanks” on the Facebook notification on partner sites, partners will delete your data. To prevent your friends from sharing any of your information with an instant personalization partner, block the application: Microsoft, Pandora, Yelp.

Yes you must go to each application and click block.

So to recap to completely opt out you need to

  1. Go to your to your privacy settings ->Applications and Websites and uncheck box at the bottom.
  2. Then click on the links to Yelp, Pandora and on Facebook and click on “Block Application”

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141 comments for “Protect Your Privacy Opt Out of Facebook’s New Instant Personalization – Yes You Have to Opt Out

  1. roni harper
    April 24, 2010 at 5:55 pm

    I don’t see the “links” you mentioned. Maybe I turned them off? How do I get to them to opt out?

  2. April 24, 2010 at 8:19 pm

    Thanks for the heads up on all of this, Bobbi – great post.

    I think Facebook has already started changing these screens to try to convince people to keep the personalization. Instead of the box on the main “applications and websites” pages, it’s now an “edit settings” box that takes you to a page with more explanation.

    The good news is that I think Facebook has hidden profiles from search engine results by default. I’m sure it’s to encourage users not already on the site to create accounts in order to just search for people, but the fact that the setting is working properly now is new. Plus, you can further narrow your settings so that only your friends (or friends of friends) can find you in Facebook search results. This is a very welcome change in my opinion.

    I’ve written more about this on my blog at

    • April 25, 2010 at 8:12 am

      I’ve had my profile set to not show up on search results since the last privacy fiasco, I know I haven’t been showing up in search engines for a while now, but I haven’t been testing it so I don’t know if it wasn’t working properly at one point. . There is a “search” section under privacy settings.

      I suspect you are right about the motives of Facebook for doing it, but the results are nice for its users. :-) Unfortunately I’m not sure the average user (not us) knows and understands about this or or the other changes Facebook makes. Especially when they are stated as a benefit to the user and complicated to understand and opt out of.

  3. Dee
    April 25, 2010 at 2:46 am

    Thanks for the great article, I have forwarded it to my friends and family as a warning :)

  4. David
    April 25, 2010 at 9:14 am

    It seems you cannot opt out of all “everyone” sharing of some items:

    “Please note that applications will always be able to access your publicly available information (Name, Profile Picture, Gender, Current City, Networks, Friend List, and Pages) and information that is visible to Everyone.”

  5. Sha
    April 25, 2010 at 2:47 pm

    Facebook is a partner of Quantcast – – a web stats and demographics information marketing company. Try visiting the website and noticing how much detailed info they have about their visitors: income, demographics, interests….

    Using quantcast technology, sites can detect changes of visitor behavior between users of the same browser in the same session. When a visitor logs into a facebook page, for example, quantcast instantly learns that the identity of the visitor has changed.

    it’s all “de-personalized” so it doesn’t identify you. But it does share all of your details with partner sites.

    There’s no way to opt out of this participation on Facebook to my knowledge since it isn’t a “privacy” issue.

  6. April 25, 2010 at 8:27 pm

    Thanks for the detailed instructions. As for me, I did decided to stop using Facebook altogether. But before I “deactivated” my account, I did the follow:
    – Removed all my friends (to protect them).
    – Changed my real email address to a bogus email I created at Hotmail.
    – Deleted all my pictures, and tagged pictures of me.
    – Changed my address, telephone number, employment information etc (yes, at one point I gave the benefit of the doubt and trusted FB).
    – Waited 4 weeks and only then I deactivated my account.

    The reason why I did that, goes beyond my lack of trust on FB ethics (or lack of). It’s a statement of where I stand when a service like FB makes it so shady/confusing to understand the terms of engagement by an average person. Granted, I consider myself privileged for working with application engineers and learning firsthand what FB is doing/allowing behind the scenes. The majority of the 400M FB users are not following discussions like this one. They simply don’t care. They’re just mimicking a new norm of behavior that started with the Internet, and has been taken to a whole new level by social networks. Just because Privacy is no longer a rigueur, it doesn’t mean we should stop caring.

    Eric Reiss (a friend) told me about when years ago Nokia aware that people were sending SMSs while driving (which is illegal), started to experiment with a steering-wheel input device. Nokia’s design team argued, “Well, people are going to do this anyway, so we might as well make it easier.” Eventually, Nokia had the good sense to drop the project. Just because people do something dumb, doesn’t mean it should be officially sanctioned. If this was a viable argument, a murderer could theoretically defend himself with the following: “Well, people are going to die anyway. So I just helped things along.”

    Blogs post like these might be useful too:
    Not too far-fetched humor:

    At the end of the day, people will do whatever they want to. However I hope to influence one or two around me, and perhaps the ripple effect will do the rest, for everyone’ sake.

  7. Cory
    April 26, 2010 at 2:57 am

    It was a nightmare…I want to all the other sites and I was not signed up for any before. Yelp gave me an error and did not let me break the link with FB…it said it was not available now.


  8. Cory
    April 26, 2010 at 2:30 pm

    THanks! BTW…I could not get unlinked from Yelp! It gives you an error…”FB is not avail now” or some BS…I sent their info/help email a note to unlink me but did not hear back…anyone exper this?


  9. RK
    April 27, 2010 at 8:21 pm

    BIG thanx for the opt out privacy setting …
    and also for links for yelp , docs and pandora .
    u r such a big HELP . Thank you ! (“^_)

  10. April 28, 2010 at 1:22 am

    Facebook is damn good as a social networking site in many aspects! But I think these privacy settings and other developments they are trying to implement are just some experiments!

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  12. Barefootguru
    May 4, 2010 at 4:32 am

    Awesome, thanks for providing this. I had found the first setting before, but not the individual apps. Hard to believe they make it so difficult to turn off… and what happens when someone writes another info sharing app? I guess we’ll have to block that one too.

  13. drjake
    May 4, 2010 at 6:12 pm

    I followed all the instructions to opt out, both here and at, about a week ago, yet when i went to the people magazine website today, there was my facebook picture again asking for my comments in the facebook window there! I went back and confirmed it: my options are all set right to opt out, and the 3 applications (yelp etc) are all blocked, yet “instant personalization” is still working! Please advise!

    • anonomama
      May 16, 2010 at 3:27 pm

      I am having the same issue. I have fully “opted out” per the EFF and detailed instructions I found online. However, when I followed a link that led to yesterday, there’s my FB icon, in full glory with posts that other friends have made. WTF? I want my privacy back!

  14. May 11, 2010 at 3:56 pm

    A recent Harvard graduate’s thoughts on facebook privacy concerns and how the tell-all generation (people currently between 18 and 29-years-old) is learning discretion:

  15. Jennifer
    May 12, 2010 at 4:37 pm

    If you thought FB was bad, check out Google Social Search (while you’re logged into your main Gmail account):

    It shows all of your chat contacts to each other (as well as your Google profile connections, but at least you can opt out of that) through your “secondary connections”. You can opt out of the rest, but you can’t opt chat contacts out of social search unless you delete or block them. So, if you want to chat with someone, you give them access to every other person you chat with. Google seems to be aware of this, but does not care

    (Google help page: Check out the help page.: )

    This is unacceptable. Let’s tell the major tech companies that we care about our data and our privacy. Let’s make them make it a priority to respect their users.

  16. May 14, 2010 at 1:30 am

    A Better Facebook – a facebook alternative that takes user privacy seriously and will have community-driven features.

  17. June 5, 2010 at 10:41 pm
  18. bw4linux
    August 21, 2010 at 1:57 pm

    If anyone simply read the Terms of Use/Terms of Service, or Privacy Policy when they decide to register with Facebook or a similar website, we wouldn’t have the need for blogs or forums or safety e-newsletters that is seen today. Facebook doesn’t hide the facts, they tell them to you straight. And to sign up for an account a box is checked (or must be checked) stating that you have read and agree to such. Yes, they can be long and seem to take forever to read, but was there any less information to take in when we got our drivers licenses? Don’t we all have to spend years in school to learn everything we use in everyday life? Didn’t our computers themselves come with instruction manuals or aren’t they at least available from the manufacturer? From the time we’re born we are told to ‘follow directions’, ‘do what we are told’, ‘be responsible’, and many times ‘pay attention’. It is no wonder many of our youth are ignoring what they are taught – they aren’t shown any better! That is my opinion…like it or ignore it. Up to you.

  19. October 13, 2010 at 4:02 pm

    I was a recent victim of the viral marketing time thief and worse a victim of privacy violation on facebook. I found the flaw in the “event invitation” feature of facebook.

    I wrote more about it on my blog, here, but it appears no matter what response you make to an event, your decision is made public.

  20. October 24, 2010 at 3:00 am

    What a great post my friend. I am a facebook fan and mostly spend my time playing some games and just talking out with my colleages. Surely, there are so many ways we can use facebook and I really love using it. I hope they have something more new to come for all of us.

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