Socially Bright | Shh…! How anonymous is the new FB Login?
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12 May Shh…! How anonymous is the new FB Login?

How anonymous is the newly announced Anonymous Login on Facebook?  On April 30, Facebook announced this new feature during f8, as a response to feedback from users concerning the excessive amount of information that apps and websites could access from their Facebook account.

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The new changes will allow them to alter the information shared with the app/website, or even allow them to sign in completely anonymously. Facebook believe that this control will enable consumers to regain trust and a sense of security over their personal information.  And Facebook is built on trust.

But signing in anonymously will still allow Facebook to listen in – the app won’t know who you are, but Facebook will. So it’s anonymous apart from the part that isn’t anonymous.

As Steve Henn saysSay someone logs into a dating app anonymously even though they’re married. Facebook will know.

Last August, Facebook made significant changes to Facebook Login – which alerted the user whenever an app or website required them to log in to Facebook, and also detailed which permissions and information the user would have to consent to in order to use the application. Although this update provided users with a universal way to sign in to a range of their favourite apps without needing to remember a range of passwords and usernames, it provided us with an “all or nothing” approach. Either accept the sharing of your information, or be denied access to the application.

With Anonymous Login, users will be able to bypass these permissions, and provide as little (or as much) information as they wish.

As consumers (and enthusiastic Facebook users!), we can certainly see advantages of these changes – after the introduction of Permissions last year, it was alarming to see what info an app required – and without the ability to restrict this many users drop out at this point.

However, it’s worth considering WHY these apps need certain information.  Responsible developers and content owners will never ask for more info than is strictly necessary, for 2 reasons:

  1. Best practice.  Facebook’s guidelines advocate conforming to to two criteria when asking for permissions – utility and visibility.  The data you collect must add to the experience and be used directly (not saved for later use).
  2. Drop off. The more permissions you require, the fewer users you’ll end up with.  Simple.

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Take, for example, the app we produced for Mirror.co.uk – as part of their Bikini Panic campaign. Without revealing some information, users wouldn’t have enjoyed the full capabilities of the app. We requested details about their holiday plans and their dieting goals, so that the app could provide users with personalised diet support – which encouraged them to stick with their weight loss program.

In our apps, permissions are only requested when personalised information will enhance the user experience.  It’s a simple but established value exchange – the app builds trust and then the user reveals a little more to it.

Logging in anonymously might appeal to users burned by spammy apps from way back in the bad old days of Facebook. But today the landscape has evolved and well produced apps will not provoke these fears in users – they’ll make the value judgement and decide what to tell the app, whilst remembering that Facebook will already know!