Turning off ‘Instant Personalization’ — How to keep Facebook from selling your public information to ‘partner sites’

Facebook has yet another “feature” — they’re calling it “Instant Personalization” of your browsing “experience” on “partner sites” — but it’s really just one more way to monetize your info. In this case, it’s info “you’ve already made available to everyone”. That makes it your fault, I guess. But since it’s a brave new Elizabeth Warren world, someone must have told them to warn you, just in case.

They’re presenting it as a benefit to you, one of those “for your convenience” changes. You know, as in “For your convenience, the grocery carts are now located outside the store” (and in the rain).

By the way, “for your convenience” actually has a perfect replacement phrase. Substitute “for our convenience” whenever you see it and the situation will always make sense. (For instance, at the grocery store: “We need the space inside, so the carts are in the rain. Since it’s for our convenience, we’re telling you the opposite, ’cause that’s how smart we think you are.”)

In Facebook’s case, the convenience is the money they get from “partner sites” to back-door the partner’s access to your info.

The new setting is Enabled by default. Here’s how to turn it off:

  1. Go to Account > Privacy Settings in the top right corner.
  2. Look for “Apps & Websites” at the bottom of the next page and select “Edit your settings”.
  3. Find “Instant Personalization” and click “Edit Settings”.
  4. Dismiss the annoying video (watch first if you like).
  5. Uncheck “Enable” and click “Confirm” when they try to talk you out of it.

For good measure, you could also neuter all the apps:

  1. Click “Back to Apps” near the top of the smiling Instant Personalization page.
  2. Under “Apps you use” click “Turn off all platform apps”.
  3. In the annoying talk-you-out-of-it popup, click “Select All” at the bottom.
  4. Then click “Turn off platform”.

Of course, now Mafia Wars won’t be able to see that your uncle’s daughter has a new lover, but hey, that’s too bad, isn’t it.

Can’t say Facebook isn’t entirely predictable. The Facebook motto: You supply the content; we collect the cash.

There’s more after the break.


Here’s the full text of their attempt to convince you to leave the setting Enabled. This appears on the page you get to from the above instructions. (Note, by the way, the subtle use of guilt — twice — in the phrase “content you’ve already made available to everyone”. Translation: Why do you care what we do; you’ve already given that stuff away.) My emphasis below:

Our goal is to give you a great social and personalized experience with every app and website you use. We’ve worked with a select set of partners to personalize your experience as soon as you arrive on their sites.

These partner sites (currently limited to Bing, TripAdvisor, Clicker, Rotten Tomatoes, Docs, Pandora, Yelp, and Scribd), can only access the information and content you’ve already made available to everyone. All our partners are required to respect your information and we’ve worked closely with them to make sure they do.

When you arrive at one of these sites, you’ll see a notification message and a way to turn off the personalized experience on that site.

Instant personalization is different from social plugins. Social plugin content comes directly from Facebook and no information is shared with the websites themselves.

To turn off instant personalization on all partner sites, uncheck the box below. This will prevent these partners from receiving any of your information through instant personalization, even content you have made available to everyone.

The modern ad and PR industry at work; they have much to answer for.

Gaius Publius is a professional writer living on the West Coast of the United States.

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