Facebook is apparently about to introduce some changes, and a couple of these have the Internet buzzing. Techcrunch.com recently published several articles on this topic, which we review below.
First, Facebook will introduce a "Like" button that will persistently appear on other partner Web sites. A techcrunch.com article notes that this could, over time, replace Google's search preeminence by creating "tributaries" to Facebook, allowing the service to index sites at cost to itself. This also would give Facebook great control on how other sites design the features involved in connecting to their service.
Second, it's believed that Facebook will release a persistent branded toolbar that Web sites can offer for users to stay connected to Facebook even while away from the site.
Third, and by far the most controversial proposal, is to automatically connect your Facebook account to partner sites. If true, this would mean your personal information would be available to sites to which you have not willingly shared any data. It's widely assumed but not certain that Facebook will use this as a default setting in your privacy and security settings, meaning you will have to manually disable this if you don't want it to be the case.
I have repeatedly cautioned about always knowing what information you are sharing and who gets access to it. This development makes it even more important to pay attention and to set privacy and security settings to your exact needs on all such services you use. I'll keep you posted as this story develops.
* Like the children in the child's tale "Hansel and Gretel," we leave small remnants behind these days when we willingly share information with certain online services. Zdnet recently ran an article that discussed how insurance agencies and other companies are becoming interested in newly provided consumer data, especially so called geo-tagging or location-based information as collected by services such as Foursquare, Gowalla and even by Facebook and Twitter.
This trend combined with several others will completely change how we look at shared data, especially if we find that we are being penalized in some way for providing it. Again it shows the importance of being constantly aware of what we are giving up in return for any benefits we reap from an online service. We need not be paranoid or go hide under a desk, but it would be a serious mistake to underestimate how our personal data is becoming of great interest to entities of all kinds. Again, just paying attention can help immensely.
* Logitech has released it's newest universal remote control for the great price of $49.99, and it looks like a winner. The company is known for quality remotes with small screens. This model is limited to controlling four devices out of approximately 225,000 that it can recognize.
* Finally, what is old is new again. Rumors filled the Web this week on the soon-to-be-released Apple iPhone for Verizon Wireless. This has been the ultimate dream for those who dislike AT&T's service and coverage, or their perceived lack of it. To be fair, AT&T seems to be listening, as the company is in the process of vigorously upgrading its network.