Spotify’s Little Facebook Privacy Tweak is a Big Deal

By  |  Friday, September 30, 2011 at 10:17 am

Spotify is giving users an option to turn off automatic Facebook sharing, for all those times you want to jam out to Kenny G without everyone knowing.

As Business Insider reports, “Private Listening” disables Facebook’s new “Add to Timeline” feature, which automatically shares users’ listening habits with their Facebook friends. Private listening does nothing for people who haven’t opted into sharing with Add to Timeline, but for users who usually want to share, this option allows them to temporarily go dark.

Private listening may seem like a small tweak to pacify privacy paranoids, but it actually has important implications. Facebook assumes that everyone wants to share everything all the time. Or at least, Facebook is so confident in its vision that the company didn’t spend any time at last week’s f8 conference talking about how to disable sharing from within an app. Keeping things to yourself is not a concept that Facebook wants to promote.

But users have spoken–they don’t always want to share everything–so now Spotify is including an easy way to turn off the fire hose. I suspect that a lot of app developers will get around to adding similar features, especially when users’ activity can be a huge embarrassment. (See Mashable’s recent story about co-workers caught gawking at sexy celebrity photos and inadvertently telling all their Facebook friends about it.)

Ideally, Facebook will recognize that sometimes people need privacy, not necessarily to hide embarrassing behavior, but just to use the Internet without feeling like they’re being watched. I’d like to see Facebook add an option like Spotify’s Private Listening that works across all apps, so users can take a break from being out in the open. Doing so wouldn’t compromise Facebook’s vision. It would strengthen that vision by giving people the knowledge that they can still hang on to their privacy while embracing Facebook’s new features.


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14 Comments For This Post

  1. swildstrom Says:

    Now, how about a way to the rest of us to turn off all Spotify notifications in our news feeds and tickers.

  2. Jared Newman Says:

    Here’s how:

    -Click on any notification from Spotify
    -In the pop-up window, click the little arrow in the top right corner.
    -Click “Hide all by Spotify”

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  5. zeusalopolis Says:

    swildstrom: you can actually do that already from facebook itself. When you hide a single spotify notification, facebook gives you the option to hide all future spotify notifications as well

  6. George Says:

    This is great. I really hope that your last statement comes true. I'm tired of everywhere I go knowing my facebook friends. I just want to browse in peace.

  7. Toastie Says:

    Screw you. I'll tell everyone when I'm listening to Kenny G and be proud of it.

  8. Israel Kendall Says:

    This was a direct reaction to the outrage of people being forced to join Facebook to get a Spotify account. But Spotify is missing the entire point of why people were so enraged over the forced Facebook integration. It never was about sharing, it was about being forced to sign up for a third party service in order to get the service you desire to sign up for. It's about freedom.

  9. oviano Says:

    I'm not so sure I agree, Israel.

    It's ridiculous and amateurish that they didn't think through the fact that not everyone would want to share the music they are listening to with all their friends automatically.

    And neither is about listening to music that might be embarrassing or something as the boss of Spotify seemed to allude to in his comments about the tweaks they were making.

    It's just that despite what Mr Zuckerberg appears to believe, some people like to do some things privately, or at the very least be able to easily control whether it is private or public, whether it be drinking a cup of coffee, listening to some music or picking their nose.

    Sometimes I think developers just get carried away – "wow if we use Facebook's sign-in authentication, we can have people sharing all their music, let's do it!" without thinking through the consequences or whether that is something people want to do.

  10. Richard Says:

    Shame this also appears to disable scrobbling. No way to just not share with Facebook.

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