How to reclaim your privacy by disabling Facebook’s “Open Graph”

This very brief tutorial will show you how to disable Facebook’s latest “has some privacy issues” service, Open Graph.

I’m not going to write a long-winded explanation of what Open Graph is. You can find a very nice summary of it here. What I will do is show you the steps required to block this new “feature” – which is enabled by default.

  1. First up, sign in to Facebook. From your Account drop-down list, select Privacy Settings.

  2. Click the Edit your settings link in the Applications and Websites section (bottom left corner).
  3. Click the Edit Settings button in the Instant Personalization section.

  4. click to enlarge

  5. Remove the check from the box labeled Enable instant personalization on partner websites.

  6. When prompted, click the Confirm button.
  7. Back at the Applications, Games and Websites section of the Privacy Settings, click the Edit Settings button next to Info accessible through your friends

  8. click to enlarge

  9. Remove the check mark from every single item listed and then click the Save Changes button.

  10. click to enlarge

  11. You’re almost done. Now you have to disable the 3 initial partners that Facebook is working with. Start out by heading to the Facebook Docs page. On the left side of that page, locate the Block Application link, and click it.
  12. Click Block Docs when prompted.
  13. Now you’ll need to block two other Facebook apps as well – the Pandora app and the Yelp app.
  14. That’s it – you’re done. There’s only one minor problem. Docs, Pandora and Yelp are just the first 3 external sites that have this “shared integration” – more will certainly come in the future. And you’ll want to block those as well. Facebook has an FAQ that will hopefully be updated as new sites are introduced. So you may want to bookmark that page and check it every once in a while.
  15. After you’ve disabled this service, you may want to quickly (and I mean quickly) scan all of your Facebook Privacy settings with this tutorial.

You can make sure you’re up to date on this info and much more like it by joining my Simple Help Facebook Page

{ 46 comments… add one }
  • totty April 23, 2010, 12:28 am

    Thanks for the excellent post. Seriously considering giving up on FB altogether.

  • Anna April 23, 2010, 12:41 am

    thanks. i was just doing the first part of that and letting my friends know about it. thanks for the run through and links to make it easier.

  • Ron April 23, 2010, 1:13 am

    I’m also thinking of dropping the ‘Book. This is getting out of hand.

  • Mary Kussrow Lanier April 23, 2010, 11:22 am

    Thanks Jeff…you da man

  • Josie April 24, 2010, 11:28 am

    Thanks very much for this – really clear and easy to follow. I’ll be recommending this to my friends.

  • Peggy April 24, 2010, 10:12 pm

    Where is the facebook docs page to change the last 3?

  • Aimée April 25, 2010, 12:02 am

    Thanks for this great guide, Ross. If I may offer a suggestion: I think it would be good to be explicit about the fact that the Simple Help Facebook Page is yours. Obviously you’re not trying to hide anything, but the way you have it set up makes it look like you are a neutral and expert third party recommending this helpful page, not a page owner offering further help and requesting joiners.

  • Ross McKillop April 25, 2010, 1:01 am

    Aimée – I’ve updated the text to say “… join my Simple Help Facebook…” from “join the Simple Help…”. Do you think that makes it clear enough not to be misleading? (which as you’re right was certainly never my intent.

  • Montana April 25, 2010, 3:34 am

    Hey thanks so much for the facebook privacy info!
    I have a question, mabe you can help,
    I have set all my privacy settings and still pictures of my friends come up on other people’s facebook page that I know, but are not part of my facebook friends list.. It’s like, how did they know I knew these people. Did they go into my hotmail contacts. If I wanted to add these people I would have done so.
    NOW, all the facebook people in my hotmail that I haven’t added can go in and see not only my friends list but all my friends contact lists and activity. Facebook should not be contacting or making suggestions to anybody on my behalf and never ever go into my hotmail contact list….it’s all an invasion of privacy!!!!!! Can you help

  • me April 26, 2010, 1:18 am

    im considering leaving fb too…this is getting too much…people are getting killed and would be bad to break the fb relationship with friends and FAMILY who are far away. But they will soon make me just leave …i hope they do something and bring back our privacy

  • Carole Guevin April 26, 2010, 10:03 am

    Crap! My partner found this Simple Help article and I must admit that I’m shocked! What is the meaning of opt-in baby? You know you ask me and I get to choose. Not discovering this after the fact.

    Made some quick research, to discover that these companies just to make it easier for us to connect.

    Well we’re not 2 yrs old being thought not to cross the street on the red light here.


  • Carole Guevin April 26, 2010, 10:07 am

    Sorry for the typos. The research I did is that companies intend to make it easier for us to connect and stuff.. and they will track this with mega server parks.. and a full new wing of tallying geeks to crunch meaning out of our activities.. and all that for nothing?!?! Because they want to SHARE on the web.. Since when share has become synonymous with profit?!?!

    So we’re not 2 yrs being taught to NOT cross the street on a red light.

  • Deanna April 27, 2010, 1:48 am

    Thanks for the helpful guide! I shared it with my friends on Facebook. I absolutely agree that these types of changes should default to “opt-out” instead of “opt-in”.

  • Tony April 28, 2010, 10:34 am

    Thank you much, it’s very appreciated!

  • Juliana April 28, 2010, 3:31 pm

    Thank you so much for this! It was really simple and very useful!

  • Wade April 29, 2010, 4:04 am

    I followed ALL of these steps and my posts are still showing on the Community pages….any ideas??

  • Fairytinx April 29, 2010, 12:24 pm

    I’ve turned off these settings but my posts are still turning up on the new community groups. How can i fix this ? I’ve untick all security setting and made everything friends only but they are still there.

  • harriett April 29, 2010, 12:29 pm

    Your posts are still showing on Community Pages because that is a completely different feature than the Instant Personalization feature. Instant Personalization is something that interacts with third-party websites and the instructions here are to help disable what info that feature can gather about us.

    Community Pages is a FB feature that uses a keyword search and puts our posts, without our permission and without notifying us, onto these pages for all to see. It’s a different feature entirely, though, and from what I can tell (which completely pisses me off) we can’t opt out or disable the feature.

  • sue April 29, 2010, 2:02 pm

    Where is the “facebook doc page” or am i missing something

  • Sharon Walsh April 29, 2010, 2:57 pm

    This is all so outrageous. This lady posted “The world does not need to know I bought diapers at Walmart” to illustrate
    It’s so scary that there are community groups for almost everything

  • Suzie April 29, 2010, 6:55 pm

    For all who are asking, the “Facebook Docs Page”, “The Pandora app” and “Yelp App” are red links on THIS page in the instruction area. Click on them through this page.

  • Duke April 29, 2010, 8:58 pm

    What about our FRIENDS’ LIST PRIVACY? Shouldn’t this be our personal option about whether to share our friends’ with others? Facebook suddenly took out this option and now our FRIENDS’ list is now open for all to see.

  • Heather April 30, 2010, 1:56 am

    Thanks for the tutorial, it worked great

  • fairytinx April 30, 2010, 9:46 am

    Ok thanks Harriett. If we are unable to disable this feature i’m afraid that’s the end of facebook for me because i feel this goes waaaay outside my privacy limits :(

  • Alice April 30, 2010, 3:06 pm

    Thanks so much for this!

  • td April 30, 2010, 11:27 pm

    Wonderful help. Will be passing this along.

  • Norma Rae May 4, 2010, 4:56 am

    I was reading the questions about Community Pages and the only way to stop them is to Opt-Out completely, which means to make your Profile blank. There is no Opt-Out and keeping your Profile just text, which I found out (although originally they said you could and changed the wording after it was rolled out). That’s when things get shady to me. There’s no reason that Facebook users shouldn’t be able to have plain text Profiles and not plug in to this Community Page format. However, to learn more about it here’s Facebook’s blog page. Of course, the slant is to give you the idea that this is for your benefit, but I don’t need to know what everyone is doing all the time nor have them know what I am doing. And here is the link to the Open Graph Protocol page so you can get a better idea of what the benefit is for these websites.

    I suggest that you at least review all the various Facebook pages and read as much as you can – Facebook, Facebook Site Governance, Facebook Security, Facebook Pages, Facebook Platform, Facebook Ads, Facebook Engineering, Facebook Marketing Solutions, etc. Some of it may make no sense to you and some of it you may have no interest in, but reading from these can give you an overall picture of what’s going on. And always read everything you can before you “Opt-In” to the latest roll out. If they don’t give you an option or you’re not exactly sure what it is (because FB is very good a using words to make the most simple thing sound very confusing and convoluted), than the best thing to do is not participate until you find out more about it. As you can tell from these responses, it’s much harder to undo and get out of these new practices once you’ve agreed to them. Good luck everybody and stay on top of it.

  • JLH May 7, 2010, 9:37 am

    That will only disable the instant personalization program, not the social plugin program, which is just as bad. Now if you like something it will appear in search engines, even if your profile is set to no public search.

  • Ross McKillop May 7, 2010, 9:44 am

    JLH – correct. That was the intent of this tutorial.

  • Jessica June 12, 2010, 12:05 pm

    When I went to Pandora and Yelp, there wasn’t an option to block. Docs did, and I did, but the other 2 did not. Any explaination on why I can’t? thank you!

  • Jessica June 12, 2010, 12:08 pm

    nevermind! I saw another post on here that answered my question, sorry for taking up space!

  • gloria lee July 19, 2010, 2:37 pm

    To be or not to be (on Facebook), this is the question. Thank you so much for the information. Very much appreciated.

  • Grace Wieber August 5, 2010, 3:32 pm

    Very thankful for this painless tutorial on reclaiming our privacy on facebook. ~ Gracie

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