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Time to review your Facebook privacy settings again

SkynetAs a sci-fi geek, when I heard of Facebook's changes, the first thing that came to mind was how it's becoming like Skynet -- and I wasn't the only one to think that.

All right, maybe it's an exaggeration to compare Facebook to the artificial intelligence software that tried to destroy mankind in the Terminator movies. But like the ubiquitous Skynet, it is integrating itself into many major websites in new ways.

Facebook is giving outside websites access to the information you make public. You should take the time to go back into your privacy settings and see what new ways it has attached itself to your online life.

For example, go on CNN.com and you'll see a widget that shows which CNN stories have been shared by people who are your Facebook friends. If you're not logged in to Facebook, it just shows what stories are popular with all Facebook users.

Some of these changes are cool and make sharing quicker -- such as being able to mark that you "like" a website without ever going to Facebook.

Or if you listen to music on Pandora.com , it can recommend playlists based on the artists you like on Facebook.

Your friends on Facebook can also share details about you via the websites they go to -- as long as you make that info available to everyone. The example Facebook uses is when a friend goes to a greeting card website, that site may prompt the friend that your birthday is coming up (if your birthday isn't private).

Here's how to control what is being shared on these sites:

Control what your friends share: Under Privacy settings, click ``Applications and Websites.'' You'll see the option to control what info websites can tap into from your friends' accounts and share (as long as that info is public).

Control what sites automatically personalize: Under the same ``Applications and Websites'' area, the last option is to control ``Instant Personalization.'' Here you can turn it off completely. If you want it to be used for some sites and not others, each site has a way to opt out.

If you come across a site that uses instant personalization, such as Yelp.com, you can click "No, thanks,'' at a Facebook prompt on the top of the page and it won't connect.


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Thanks for the heads up.

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