My Opinion on Branch Out for Facebook Has Changed…Slightly
Wow. I’m truly floored by all the views and comments from my blog post on this subject back in January of 2011. Apparently, the subject of professional networking sites on Facebook and their privacy is still a hot button a year later. I’ve been asked to update my thoughts on the Branch Out application specifically and well, you might be surprised as to what I have to say.
One year ago, Branch Out was an obtrusive application that …well… pissed me off. No, really it did. At the time, I had several friends that had installed it and as such sent invitations to me to join them through the application and often times I not only declined but I deleted them too, not because I no longer wanted to be their “Friend”. Rather, I just didn’t want my profile image, access to my work & education history, access to my Friends List, etc. associated with the application even if I chose not to join in the fun. Now, that has changed ever so slightly.
I still don’t agree that professional networking applications have any business being on what is essentially very much a personal network for most people…at least for the majority of my 560+ Friends it is (That’s gotta say something, right?). However, a year ago there was no way to block such applications (or no way that I could tell anyway). Today, there is….and that’s what makes me happy!
As far as I can tell, once a User blocks the application, it no longer has access to any User information as long as that User has edited their privacy settings to indicate their information isn’t to be shared with third party apps their friends may elect to use (see below for instructions on how to do that). However, by default Facebook still shares my picture, name, gender, networks, and username and user id (account number) as they are all always publicly available, including to apps. THAT’s why I’m just happy; not ecstatic.
So, I resigned myself. I figure as long as there are some things I can block through privacy settings or an app itself, I have effectively limited the amount of information my Friends have access to via the Branch Out app (or any 3rd party app for that matter). Sure, the profile picture of me and a friend smiling away is now associated with my name in a Friend’s Branch Out Profile. Oh well. But, if someone clicks on it, they’ll only get what Facebook has made publicly available by default. I guess I can live with that.
If you’ve been reading my blog or read the initial post that sparked this sequel (hat tip to Debra for suggesting it!), are you surprised by my revelation?
And just so you know…I have “re-instated” a couple of Friends since I deleted them a year ago simply because I came to the above conclusion. Heck. I missed ‘em! Those are some good peeps!!
Still wondering…what do you think about Branch Out or any professional networking application on Facebook? Would love to hear your thoughts. Leave a comment below.
In the meantime, here are the instructions to set your privacy settings so that 3rd party applications don’t have access to much of your profile when used by Friends and the application’s permissions request certain information:
- Go to your “Privacy Settings” (accessed via the down arrow next to “home”)
- Click Edit Settings to the far right of “Apps and Websites”
- Click Edit Settings to the far right of “How people bring your info to apps they use”
- Un-check anything you wish not to be shared with third party apps
- Click “Save Changes”