If you’re a regular Facebook user, you may have noticed that status updates from artists, businesses, and nonprofit organizations you’ve never “liked” are starting to appear in your News Feed at random. By now, you may have wondered what’s going on and why you’re getting frequent updates from Grannies for Romney all of a sudden. As it turns out, Facebook has found yet another way to market to its users — by sharing the status updates of pages your Facebook friends have “liked” at some point.
As you can imagine, this could cause quite a few embarrassing gaffes if you’ve friended co-workers, church members, or acquaintances with whom you wouldn’t necessarily discuss your support for something controversial, like, say, capital punishment.
ZDNet further explains the ramifications of the new policy:
If you actively share a link, a post, or a photo, you expect that shared item to go out to your friends immediately. In this case, however, the posts are going out under your name because at some point in the past (in some cases in the distant past) you visited a page and clicked Like.
Yes, you voluntarily Liked that page and made it part of your Facebook profile. If a Facebook friend wants to go through your list of Likes, they can learn that you like the NRA or PETA or a seemingly innocuous group that you probably didn’t realize was funded by Karl Rove’s political action committee.
In a perfect world, our personal and professional lives would be completely separate. But in the real world, those two entities often overlap, and in order to avoid a potentially offensive or embarrassing situation, you might just want to think before you “like.”
The new involuntary “sharing” policy is just one of a number of increasingly Big Brother-esque moves at Facebook. News Feeds also inform everyone on your friends list when you comment on status updates, when you like a picture (the liked picture appears on friends’ feeds), and when multiple friends update about the same topic (e.g., 13 of your friends mentioned “BET Awards”). Maybe it’s time we all began rethinking our online practices.