Follow-up on Facebook and The Washington Post

I’ve been getting a lot of comments on my post about Facebook and The Washington Post. I wanted to just write a brief follow-up on it. I had Luke Shepard of Facebook present at the Gartner Catalyst conference last week and through a bit of serendipity he found Tuesdaynight and my recent post. He kindly provided this clarification on what was going on:

The Washington Post still has no idea what your Facebook account is – the blue box is an iframe onto facebook.com, and it’s served entirely by Facebook. No information is transferred to the Wapo, and none of the rest of your activity on Wapo is linked back to Facebook, unless you explicitly choose to (by clicking the “Like” plugin, for example).

As I mentioned in my comment back to him, there were two things that threw me off. First, I didn’t realize how Facebook’s session management worked. FB sessions live on after you close the browser unless you explicitly log-off. This is no different than any other website. However, what is a bit different is that  sites with Facebook’s embedded iframe can take advantage of you departed-but-not-logged-out session and this is exactly what was happening on WaPo. Second, I have a problem with WaPo giving me a choice about Network News but not informing me about it. Furthermore, the default opt-in on the part of WaPo I think disrespects people’s desire for meaningful choice and control.

Thanks to Luke for providing a bit of insight and thanks to all of you how have commented on the previous post.

4 Replies to “Follow-up on Facebook and The Washington Post”

  1. Thanks for the followup, Ian, it shows integrity.

    The opt-in question is interesting. Since no information is being transferred, it’s not clear that there’s anything to opt into. I think the social plugins work the same as myriad other plugins and ad networks around the internet, with the exception that it’s more obvious to the user what’s happening. If users needed to click a button in order to see personalized stories, then the vast majority wouldn’t get to experience the value that’s created.

    Given that, I’d love to hear any suggestions you have for how they should behave.

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