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Don't let Facebook's single sign-on expose your awkward moments

Caitlin McGarry | June 3, 2013
Sites and apps are adding the ability to sign in through Facebook, Twitter, and Google+, but people should be wary of sharing their private lives with big brands.

"[Social login] adds some credibility," Polonetsky says. "Last year when I was researching hotels in Paris, there were friends that had liked or been to a particular hotel, so I reached out to them. I think there's a huge value to consumers when companies respect the way the data is intended to be used. The concerns arise when companies end up being overly aggressive about sharing in ways users didn't intend."

You have a choice
Although the major social networks have safeguards in place to make sure that companies must ask for access to your information, you may still have reservations about social logins. Mozilla's solution is Persona, a second beta version of which was released in April. Persona is a social plug-in that lets you create a single identity unattached to any social profile or personal information beyond your email address and password.

"The fundamental problem is that social sign-in conflates the act of signing in with granting permission to publish in your name," Mozilla principal engineering lead Lloyd Hilaiel said via email. "Persona will fix this problem by solving sign-in in isolation. This lets us give people exactly what they want: an easier way to sign in, without any new passwords, and without any unexpected surprises."

Sites and apps are moving away from requiring social logins—for instance, Pinterest and Spotify dropped Facebook exclusivity last year. But there's always the option, and sometimes, it's a useful one.

 

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