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3 Ways Facebook Hopes to Be a Better Friend

Digital giants like Facebook, Apple, Google, Amazon and Microsoft  would all  like to be the home base for your mobile phone or tablet. The challenge is keeping you connected to them even when you're doing something completely different.


Here's an example: the annoying decision you have to make whether to log into a new app with Facebook instead of creating yet another user name and password. The screen often says something like: "Can NewApp access your personal information, including your profile and list of friends, etc., etc."

We're guessing that a lot of people bail out at that point and just say no.

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So Facebook has just announced three adjustments to the log-in routine that they hope will encourage you to use your FB user name and password everywhere, while providing a new benefit for you - giving you better ways to control your personal information and that of your friends. They are:

  • Anonymous login. As apps are updated, you'll be able to sign in to many of them with your Facebook account, but without sharing your personal information such as your age, gender or biography.
  • Friend data. Facebook will no longer allow companies to collect information about your Facebook friends when you use your profile to log into a website or app. In the past, that was something you would have to give up for the convenience of using Facebook.
  • Privacy permissions. Facebook announced it will be much easier to pick and choose what information is shared on your Facebook page when you play a game, listen to music or read a story on a website. Watch the video to see this in action:

For those of us who remember the "walled garden" of AOL, which competed with the Wild West of the Internet for attention, Facebook's moves to become your one and only are familiar. But, as with AOL, the convenience of one interface, a single sign-on and one main online relationship may be what keeps you coming back. At least you have better choices now to protect your diminishing privacy.

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How the other giants compete for your connection will be interesting to watch. We talked recently about Microsoft's answer to the riddle of keeping you tied to its services: It's making the company's signature productivity apps available for iPad and other mobile devices, but they're tethered to Microsoft's own cloud-based services. Apple is playing to its strengths in digital entertainment, contemplating purchase of Beats Electronics, the headphone maker and music service.

The competition often benefits consumers, like when Yahoo offers a free terrabyte of storage for your photos, or when Facebook makes your privacy a priority.

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