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Amazon has launched a new feature that connects users to their Facebook profiles, and then makes product suggestions based on their “likes” and other activity on the social network — but the online retailer also stresses that it will not share any of the data it has about its users or their purchasing behavior with Facebook. The new feature uses the Facebook Platform (formerly Facebook Connect), which was rolled out at the F8 conference in April, and allows websites and publishers to integrate their services with the network and pull data using the Facebook open-graph API.
After you click to connect your account, which brings up the familiar Facebook Connect authorization window, Amazon creates a profile page with product recommendations — for example, music suggestions based on your profile and related activity on Facebook, such as bands you have added as favorites — as well as items that are popular with your friends and social network on Facebook. In a nice touch, it even provides gift suggestions for people in your network who have birthdays coming up, based on their public profiles on Facebook.
On the information page, the first thing Amazon points out — even before it gets to the benefits of connecting your account to Facebook — is that it will not share any of your user information or purchasing activity with the social network. The online retailer states that it will not share your purchasing history, will not attempt to contact your Facebook friends and will not post anything to your Facebook wall without your consent. The note seems designed to forestall any privacy-related issues of the kind that have dogged the social network since it changed its privacy settings in the wake of the F8 conference.
Amazon appears to have deliberately stopped short of the full account integration that is possible with the Facebook Platform — for example, several online services (including Microsoft, Yelp and Pandora) have adopted a feature called “instant personalization,” which allows sites to show users customized content based on their Facebook profile, without requiring them to log in first. This feature caused a substantial amount of criticism after it was launched, and no other services appear to have added it since.
Amazon also doesn’t appear to be publishing any activity back to a user’s Facebook feed, perhaps as a result of the backlash created by Facebook’s ill-fated Beacon initiative, which did something similar.
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