Q: Growing tired of the Facebook privacy scandals, I tried to leave the social network, but you need to be a member now to access a number of outside websites. How can I get around this?
A: Facebook, as you're well aware by this point, has a history of privacy scandals. CEO Mark Zuckerberg is constantly trying to push what privacy means in the 21st century -- how transparent should we all be on the Internet? -- but with each step, a significant number of users push back. Last week, Facebook announced on its Developers blog that it was making it possible for third-party applications to gain access to users' mobile phone numbers and addresses. By early Monday morning the Facebook team had dialed back the change until further notice. (For more on this issue: "The Next Facebook Privacy Scandal: Sharing Phone Numbers, Addresses.")
Some of the privacy issues have been just too much for users, resulting in cancelled accounts. But more and more organizations are joining the Facebook Connect network and incorporating the site's development tools into their own. It's getting to the point where you're at a disadvantage if you don't have a Facebook account; you can use it to log in with the same username and password on more than two million sites -- it's not just for checking in on your cousin's newest baby pictures. So, here's the trick: You can go completely invisible on Facebook -- nobody will be able to view your photographs, see your activity or where you've checked in except for existing friends -- but still have an account to use around the web.