Facebook just got scarier.

Wired writes of the social networking site’s new “Open Graph” protocol today:

“It’s an initiative that will unleash new waves of applications on Facebook that will greatly enhance the power of the service — already a major part of people’s lives — by adding a limitless stream of lifestyle data that people can use to share and, ultimately, define themselves with a profile built on a stunning amount of personal information.”

Or, better put, “Facebook will be its own not-so-little internet”.

“The movies you quote. The songs you have on repeat. The activities you love. Now there’s a new class of social apps that let you express who you are through all the things you do,” says the promotional page for the new Facebook Timeline, which gathers this vastly expanded data stream and allows you to “tell your story from beginning, to middle, to now.”

As tech writer Stilgherrian writes in Crikey today, Facebook founder “Zuckerberg has called this “frictionless sharing” because, apparently, clicking on the “Like” button is still too much effort. Friction. He wants you to share more, so now everything you do or experience is automatically shared. He’s entirely missing the point.”

Sharing is about choosing, not about automatically giving over the data around every single move you make: every memory, every plan — hey, every bowel movement if you’re so inclined — to friends, casual acquaintances, colleagues, colleagues of colleagues, Facebook and ultimately advertisers.

This new phase is opt-in, a compromise that Facebook learnt the hard way. And ultimately, it’s up to users to decide if there’s a line, and whether or not they want to retain even the slightest modicum of privacy in the age of sharing everything. Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.

Think before you tag.

Peter Fray

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