Is Facebook Secretly Sharing What You Are Reading and Watching?

During a recent phone call, my colleague Catherine Reach and I had a bit of a chuckle over a rather risqué and NSFW (not suitable for work) article that one of our mutual friends had apparently just read online. Think clothing-optional antics by a celebrity in a bedroom in Vegas. As it happened, a few minutes before our call, we had both seen a Facebook update telling us that our friend has just read this particular article.

The critical fact here is not what happened in Vegas, but rather that our friend likely had no idea that the articles he was reading were being shared with the world via Facebook. And our friend is certainly not the only person unknowingly embarrassing themselves in front of all their Facebook friends and acquaintances. Catherine and I have both noticed recently that more and more people seem to be sharing embarrassing information about what they are reading and watching on Facebook.

Please remember, some sites will automatically share what you are doing with your Facebook friends. Some of these sites may warn you the first time you visit them (usually when you look at an article that someone you know has shared). There will be vague warning or checkbox to click on before the article you want to read loads. In most cases, this will be the one and only warning you get. From that point forward they will automatically share a description and link to every item you watch or read. Yikes!!

This is called “frictionless” sharing. Read more about it in this CNET article (How Facebook is ruining sharing).

The number of sites using frictionless” sharing is growing very quickly. At first it was the mainstream media and sites like Netflix and Spotify, but now there are many more, and the list is growing longer on a daily basis. See this Mashable post for a list of 60 apps that will share information on Facebook.

Do any of the apps on this list look familiar? Are you using any of them?

Go to your Facebook Privacy settings page and review the list of apps you have installed and what they are sharing. Do it now. Right now. I am guessing you are sharing information that you don’t realize you are sharing.

And while you’re at it, check the privacy and sharing settings on the other social media tools you use. is a great tool to help you do this.

A HT to Catherine who tweeted about our conversation earlier today and inspired me to write this.


  1. Almost all the comments on the Mashable article are favourable. Does this apply only where one has expressly downloaded a FB app, or where one clicks on a link provided by a FB friend (like the one to this article?)

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