In fact, even those people who know exactly how this new feature works may need to be on guard against sharing some seriously embarrassing updates.
For those not in the loop: Facebook is making sharing even easier by automatically sharing what you’re doing on Facebook-connected apps. Instead of having to “Like” something to share it, you’ll just need to click “Add to Timeline” on any website or app, and that app will have permission to share your activity with your Facebook friends.
What activity, you ask? It could be the news articles you read online, the videos you watch, the photos you view, the music you listen to, or any other action within the site or app. Facebook calls this auto-sharing “Gestures.”
Can you see the possible issue here?
I’m pretty familiar with this auto-sharing function since it’s been a feature of The Huffington Post for a good while now. The way it works there: Once you join the site, every article you read is shared with your friends via an activity feed (unless you switch that feature off).
So right now I can see that someone I know professionally read “Scarlett Johansson Nude Photos” and a male colleague, who will remain anonymous, recently read the following:
1. “Conan O’Brien Stares At Nicole Scherzinger’s Cleavage”
2. “Heather Morris On Breast Implants”
3. “Perrey Reeves Shows Off Bikini Body (PHOTO)”
I’m not saying this is a bad idea as such, but people need to be aware of what they’re signing up for when they add apps to the Timeline. Even my tech-savvy friends seem to set up these auto-share apps, completely forget about them, and return to doing things they wouldn’t necessarily want to share with all their friends.
Heck, I even find myself doing it.
Just a few days ago I added the Washington Post Social Reader app to my profile — this is one of many new news apps that auto-shares what you’re reading with your friends. Later, I returned to the app, forgot about that feature, read a ton of articles and realized they were all on my Facebook Timeline.
Now I didn’t read anything particularly saucy like my HuffPo friends did, but even that slight lapse was enough for me to uninstall the app completely.
So what can you do to avoid a Facebook privacy faux pas? Be aware that whenever you click a “Add to Timeline” button on a website or app from now on, you’re giving that app permission to post your activity to Facebook.
Most of the time you might be fine with this — like sharing the music you listen to on Spotify with friends (unless you like Rebecca Black) — but other times it might be worth disabling this function after you approve the app.
Should you worry about Facebook’s new Gestures functionality? No, but even the most technical among us should be aware that sharing everything is not always wise, and that selecting the right privacy settings can protect you against any mistakes.
This post reflects the opinions of the author and not necessarily those of Mashable as a publication.