Spotify Offers Facebook Privacy Tweak

Spotify is giving users an option to turn off automatic Facebook sharing, for all those times you want to jam out to Kenny G without everyone knowing.

As Business Insider reports, “Private Listening” disables Facebook’s new “Add to Timeline” feature, which automatically shares users’ listening habits with their Facebook friends. Private listening does nothing for people who haven’t opted into sharing with Add to Timeline, but for users who usually want to share, this option allows them to temporarily go dark.

Private listening may seem like a small tweak to pacify privacy paranoids, but it actually has important implications. Facebook assumes that everyone wants to share everything all the time. Or at least, Facebook is so confident in its vision that the company didn’t spend any time at last week’s f8 conference talking about how to disable sharing from within an app. Keeping things to yourself is not a concept that Facebook wants to promote. (And some Spotify users weren't excited about requiring the Facebook interaction to begin with.)

But users have spoken -- they don’t always want to share everything -- so now Spotify is including an easy way to turn off the fire hose. I suspect that a lot of app developers will get around to adding similar features, especially when users’ activity can be a huge embarrassment. (See Mashable’s recent story about co-workers caught gawking at sexy celebrity photos and inadvertently telling all their Facebook friends about it.)

Ideally, Facebook will recognize that sometimes people need privacy, not necessarily to hide embarrassing behavior, but just to use the Internet without feeling like they’re being watched. I’d like to see Facebook add an option like Spotify’s Private Listening that works across all apps, so users can take a break from being out in the open. Doing so wouldn’t compromise Facebook’s vision. It would strengthen that vision by giving people the knowledge that they can still hang on to their privacy while embracing Facebook’s new features.

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