Facebook Enhances Privacy Settings with Anonymous Login

Facebook announced new authentication changes yesterday, including Anonymous Login which gives users the option of using an application without sharing personal data stored with Facebook.

Anonymous is the new black for Facebook.

The social network announced a number of changes to how users interact with third-party apps via Facebook logins, the most interesting being a service called Anonymous Login.

Facebook chief executive officer Mark Zuckerberg told developers at the company’s F8 conference yesterday that Anonymous Login allows users to log in to third-party apps without using their Facebook credentials, and without sharing personal information with the third party.

“The idea here is that even if you don’t want an app to know who you are yet, you still want a streamlined experience for signing in that removes the hassle of filling out all these different fields,” Zuckerberg said. “This is going to let you try apps without fear.”

Anonymous Login is in beta and available only for certain applications; Flipboard, for example, is one of the first. At login, users will have the option of signing in to an app with their Facebook credentials, or test-driving the app using Anonymous Login. Anonymous Login presents itself in a black screen, rather than Facebook’s customary blue, and affords users the ability to avoid sharing any of the data already shared with Facebook with an outside app.

Zuckerberg said users will have the option of sharing data down the line should they so choose.

Zuckerberg said users will have the option of sharing data down the line should they so choose. Anonymous Login can also sync across devices, bringing the same experience on a tablet or smartphone.

Anonymous Login was just one of several enhancements Facebook made. Its new Facebook Login also puts more privacy controls in the user’s hands when interacting with apps via Facebook credentials.

Building on changes introduced last year that clarify when apps are seeking permission to interact with data stored on Facebook, the new login gives users options to edit how much information is shared with third parties.

“With the new login, I can sign in on my own terms,” Zuckerberg said. “As a developer, this is going to help more people feel comfortable signing into your apps and engaging with them.”

Once a user reaches the login screen for an app, a dialogue appears on the screen informing the user what details the app seeks, such as access to friends lists or Facebook Likes. A user can edit this information via a menu view of information they are providing, including access to their public profile, friends list, email addresses, birthday, Likes and more. The user can uncheck any option they do not wish to share with an app. The new Facebook Login also gives users the option to approve where an app might post back to Facebook.

Facebook also announced that it will review the permissions requested by third party applications by extending similar existing review processes used for its App Center and Open Graph to Facebook Login.

“During Login Review, we’ll look at and approve any permissions that an app requests beyond public profile, e-mail and friend list,” wrote Facebook’s Jeffrey Spehar. “Our goal is to help apps follow best practices while still keeping the review process fast and lightweight.”

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