NEW YORK – Facebook is rolling out a new feature that requires outside applications and websites to tell users exactly what parts of their profiles have to be shared for the apps to work.
Applications already had to ask users for permission to access anything in their profiles that wasn't public. But these services didn't have to specify what information they were using. Such information can include your photos, your friends' birthdays or your e-mail address.
Under the new policy, the services will say which aspects of a profile they will mine, but the user still won't be able to pick out which pieces they want to grant access to. They have to either grant permission or disallow the app from working at all.
The world's largest online social network announced the change in April. It's part of Facebook's cooperation with Canada' privacy commissioner, who has been among the sharpest critics of the company's privacy policies.
Facebook has come under fire for the way it treats the information its nearly 500 million users post on the site. Most recently, privacy advocates and lawmakers have complained about Facebook's "instant personalization" feature, which draws information from users' profiles to customize a handful of other sites, including review site Yelp and the music service Pandora.
Partly because of criticism and partly because of the site's growth from a small network for college students, Facebook's privacy settings became complicated and often confusing over the years.
In response, Facebook simplified its privacy settings in changes unveiled last month — though some critics still say these changes don't go far enough.