Ilse's weblog of random thoughts

Beware of your face… in Facebook

The last days I have seen several posts from my Facebook-friends regarding a privacy issue where third-party apps apparently use your picture.

ALERT: Facebook has agreed to let third party advertisers use your posted pictures without your permission. Click on “Settings” up at the top where you see the “Logout” link. Select “Privacy”. Then select “News Feed and Wall”. Next, select the tab that reads “Facebook Ads”. In the drop down box, select “No One”. Then save your changes. Do it now. Help your friends…cut and paste this into your status.

I have been working for 8 years now at the uni, where privacy and security are very high on the agenda (we often joke between colleagues that if one of our apps doesn’t work, there is a 99% chance the culpit is one of the firewalls). Thefor, I have become aware to these issues, and promptly changed that setting, and checked a dozen other ones. One can never be to safe, right?

Now, I became curious what was really going on, and found this interesting article ‘Can you protect your Image While on Facebook?’ in the NYT. The problem lies in the little adds that show up in the right pane of your Facebook screen. Facebook allows advertisers to use a program called Social Ads to show certain products I like (because I became a fan) to my friends and use my profile picture to draw their attention. Nothing wrong with that, when I become fan of a product or artist, I don’t mind, although I guess not everyone would feel like this.

It becomes a different story when advertisers use your picture completely out of the context, like happened a couple of times already. Imagine that you are a Facebook user, happily married, and you suddenly see an advert for a dating service with your husband’s/wife’s picture next to it. I guess you would be as shocked as this blogger, to whom it really happened. Therefor, with no further ado, change those settings, before it’s your face popping up next!


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