New Facebook Privacy Plugin

by Debra N. Diener J.D. CIPP G

Social Media Apps

This update’s for Facebook users. You may already know that Facebook just launched (as of September 20th) a new privacy plugin called Shared Activity. If you have, that’s great.  If you haven’t, then I want to make sure you know about it.

First, what will Shared Activity do?  It gives Facebook users another way to control the activities they want to share when they’re using apps that interact with Facebook on the web.  In brief, Shared Activity allows users to modify the privacy settings while they’re in a particular web application — so users can have more control over who sees the activities they’ve created on that app in Facebook.

Second, where can you learn more?

  • Charlie White has an excellent article and graphic explaining Shared Activity; “Facebook Plugin Offers Another Way to Control Privacy”.  One benefit of Shared Activity that Mr. White notes is that “…if a user doesn’t want the general public to see what stories he likes in a certain app, or his comments within it, he can adjust that without leaving the application and going back to Facebook.”
  • Mr. White’s article has a link to the official Facebook “Developer Blog” about Shared Activity.  It’s by Andrew Chen and is excellent.
  • Mr. Chen’s blog has the same graphic as Mr. White uses.  Mr. Chen describes the steps that a user will need to take.  Equally important is his caveat.  Mr. Chen is careful to say in his blog that “[y]ou should note, however, that the plugin does not control privacy settings within your app, and should be considered complementary.”  So he’s saying that a Facebook user needs to set his or her preferred privacy settings in both places.

I haven’t tried Shared Activity yet so can’t tell you either how effective it is or how easy it is to use.  So this is just a quick overview along with resources you can use to explore it more for yourself.  Gaining more control about who gets to see your activities and comments is always a desirable goal.


Ms. Diener is now an independent consultant on privacy, identity management, information protection and risk management. She served in senior managerial, legal, policy and legislative positions in all three branches of the Federal government. In addition to her privacy expertise, Ms. Diener played a lead role on such important domestic and international issues as criminal justice/law enforcement and financial services. She speaks frequently at industry and governmental conferences and meetings.