Facebook & Washington Post behavior I cannot explain

I was looking at some local news on Washington Post’s website. I happen to notice that there in the right gutter along with miscellaneous ads which my brain filters out of my awareness, was a blue box. In the blue box was a list of things my Facebook friends have “liked” on WaPo recently.

And this took me by surprise.

I opened a different browser and headed to Facebook. First, I checked my Application Settings to see if a Washington Post application had slipped into my profile. I had this happen – Gizmodo and some other sites appeared in my authorized application list without getting my authorization. See this article for more. There was no Washington Post application. Next up, I checked my Privacy Settings to verify once more that I disabled Instant Personalization. And yes, that was still the case.

So, wtf?

I clicked on the big red X that WaPo had so kindly put in the blue box with my friends activities. Instead of removing the widget, it brought me to my Washington Post account. (At some point, I registered an account with the Post so I could actually read what they wrote – I know, crazy eh?) And there was a setting called Network News. Sure enough I was opt’ed in to that. This Network News setting enabled the Facebook social activity widget to appear on the pages I saw.

Here’s the million dollar question – How did Washington Post link to my Facebook profile? I certainly never used Facebook Connect, nor have I ever “Liked” something on the Post.

The best guess I’ve got at this point is that the Post used my profile email address to match with Facebook. But this is a pretty weak theory as I have my privacy settings cranked down tight on such things at Facebook, for what that is worth. I check the Post’s privacy policy and no mention of Facebook anywhere.

Anyone have an idea on this? Anyone seeing the same behavior?

BTW – if you want out of the Post’s Network News, go here to change your preferences.