It is virtually impossible to complete any online sign-up process these days without supplying and then verifying an email address. This allows companies to authenticate customer information, contact customers if there is an issue with their order, send coupons or promotions for future potential purchases, and establish a certain level of communication with their customers.
However, it does not give the merchant much information about the customer and this is why more and more vendors are using Facebook Connect for their online registration process. With Facebook Connect, companies can access more demographic information about their customers and tailor their communication accordingly. It also allows the company to add additional value through personalized offers or suggestions, and through social content for their community of customers.
This leaves many customers and Facebook users feeling nervous about just how much information they are sharing and who they are sharing it with. Understandably, many people have some trepidation about allowing third-party applications to access their Facebook information but many of these fears can be assuaged with a better understanding of how Facebook Connect works.
Here are a few myths that need debunking:
Myth 1: Facebook Owns My Content, Can Sell it to Third-Party Apps
Anything posted on Facebook or elsewhere online may live in perpetuity in the far reaches of the internet, but Facebook does not own your content. The user agreement grants Facebook non-exclusive, but royalty-free licensing rights to content you post such as photos and videos. The user agreement cannot be modified, but some of the privacy and app settings can be tweaked (Facebook Legal Terms).
By reviewing and adjusting your privacy settings you can control and understand specifically what information Facebook might be sharing with the third-party company that uses Facebook Connect for registration.
Myth 2: Third-Party Apps Can See My Photos, Status Updates, Comments, etc.
When using Facebook Connect as a sign-in method, third-party apps can only view the information a user has made public. This again refers to the privacy settings - if left unchanged then all of this information will be viewable to the third-party provider but this can be adjusted so that information that a user does not want to share with the public or with a third-party through Facebook Connect can remain private.
Automatically, the pieces of information that an app would receive through Facebook Connect are:
- Profile picture
- User ID
- List of friends
This is why an app might be able to show a user that 5 of their friends are already using this app, for example. Apps that want more information must request it, and the user has the option to grant permission or not at that point. For instance, user email addresses are protected, and cannot be shared without explicit permission from the user.
Ultimately, Facebook Connect can improve the user experience tremendously through bespoke content from the merchant. Most people are also much more likely to trust a third-party app if they can see that many of their friends are already using it. This can give the user an opportunity to get a reference from somebody who’s already using the app about their experience.
Rather than fearing potential privacy issues that they don’t quite understand, Facebook users should adjust their privacy settings as they see fit so they can take advantage of the Facebook Connect feature.