old-facebook-logogSeems like Facebook is dominating more and more of the web these days. With nearly 400 million active users and the average user having 130 friends, it seems like everybody we know is on Facebook.

But how up-to-date are you with all the changes in the Facebook Platform?

Like Everything, Become a Fan of Nothing
With an announcement at its f8developer conference last week, Facebook will creep even further beyond the boundaries of its own site by allowing third-party sites to add “Like” buttons that transmit data back to Facebook.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerburg calls this initiative “Building the Social Web Together”. I call it information overload. Do I really want or need to know what style of Levi’s some kid I knew way back in middle school is buying?

Inside the confines of the Facebook site, this change also impacts how users interact with Pages, formerly known as Fan Pages, maintained by brands, businesses and other organizations. No longer will users “Become a Fan” of pages, causes and brands they like. This function has been supplanted by the “Like” button. The Electronic Frontier Foundation has been pretty vocal on the issue of privacy on Facebook, and now offers a good explanation of how the Pages of which you were previously a Fan (and quite a few you weren’t) will now show up as “Connections” in your profile.

Privacy Gets Even More Complicated
In another announcement, Facebook implemented changes to its Privacy Policy that makes certain profile information – such as education, hometown, current city and interests – available to the public, regardless of whether you’d previously made that information private.

Facebook offers a Guide to Privacy, but it includes no real details on how to control your “Likes” or  how to  protect your profile data. Gawker.com’s Ryan Tate has a good post with tips on workarounds to reclaim your privacy on Facebook.

Your Data, Spread Across the Web
Facebook will now allow third-party application developers to hold onto user data, rather than deleting it after 24 hours. On the surface, this might seem like a good idea, as it will likely make apps work faster since they can hold data and skip the step of asking Facebook servers for it each time you access the app.

But think about the security risks. If apps hold all the data from your Facebook account, hackers now have more incentive to find and exploit security holes to steal your personal information. If the thought of losing your identity to thieves because somebody hacked into Farmville scares you, ReadWriteWeb has instructions for deleting apps from your Facebook account.

If you’re a Facebook user, do these changes make you nervous? Will you make changes to your account to safeguard your privacy? If so, please share the steps you’ve taken, or intend to take, in the Comments section below.