This post was written by Abine’s co-founder, Rob Shavell.
Facebook and Apple announced that they’ve integrated their information and technologies to create a more “personalized experience” that connects your use of Apple products with your Facebook account and activities. How will building Facebook into Apple affect your privacy?
ReadWriteWeb reports the main ways in which this integration will happen:
- “Facebook events are integrated into calendars, and your contacts get Facebook connection as well.
- In addition to more integration in iOS6 and OS X, Facebook integration will also feature prominently in Apple’s App Store and iTunes Store.
- Users will be able to share products, including apps, movies, songs and television shows from the stores.
- Apple will offer a public Facebook integration API.
- Users will get a single sign-in for both Facebook and Apple.
- As it previously did with Twitter, Apple will make it possible for users to post directly to Facebook from the Notification Center.
- Easier sharing of photos to and from Facebook through Apple operating systems.”
But there are broader implications beyond these details. Through Apple and Facebook’s partnership, “You” have literally become a part of computer programming.
While the statement sounds bizarre, it is technically accurate. The chatty social information-sharing that Facebook users have been doing is now part of the very fabric of computing, embedded in the computer languages and functions that developers use to build new features. For the first time, what we like, who our friends are, and where we go has been turned into pure data and been made available to tens of thousands of computer software developers to write programs that include “us.”
Many people commenting on Apple and Facebook partnership focus on the positives, the future “magical experiences” that can happen when software knows exactly who you are. Other privacy-conscious people are alarmed by the extent to which your detailed personal information will now be available to others.
You (and tens of millions of users like you) will ultimately decide how much of yourself to make available to online services. The reality today is companies with huge stores of personal data can decide to “get married” and share the data they have about you: whenever they want, without your input. You’ll have to decide whether the benefits of using Apple and Facebook are worth letting those companies mix together all your photos, your friends, your music, your apps, your location, your phone and chat records, your likes, where you’ve been, and more.
Even if you love Apple, Facebook, or both, you may still want control over how they share your personal life, build your personal activities into data and programs, and display what you’re doing in one place with your friends in another… all without asking you.
At Abine, we’re focused on giving you new ways to control your online privacy. One of the simplest means of control is to not give out the same identity (specifically your real email address and other identifiers) across the different companies and services that you use.
Keeping your emails and other credentials separated helps stop your online life from becoming an open book, easily exchanged by companies whenever they want – often without asking you. We believe your online life can and should express the same freedom you enjoy in your real life: you can be one way with your co-workers, another with your family, and yet still be an unidentified face in the crowd sitting down on a train or buying a sandwich.
We’re working on a new product that helps control your online privacy by keeping the personal information companies are storing about you more separated. We’d love if you gave the beta version a try and let us know your thoughts!