Facebook's entire existence is based on identity: The network has always asked for your real name, which is how you find your friends and they find you. But Facebook realizes that you don't always want your identity out there, especially when it comes to signing up for other apps, so the network now offers an Anonymous Login option in apps that use Facebook's login tool.
If you've ever installed a new app, you know that signing up for a new account can be really irritating and logging in with Facebook can be a little creepy. Some of us still have flashbacks of apps that used to post on our walls willy-nilly. Others are trying to avoid the government's prying eyes. With Anonymous Login, you can still use an app without having to register or use your Facebook account to sign in.
"The idea here is that if you don't want an app to know who you are yet, you still want a streamlined experience," Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said. "You want a hassle-free way to log in and try apps."
If you end up liking the app, you can choose to log in with Facebook or create a new account down the line. The new option is currently being tested in a handful of apps and will see a wider rollout later this year. Given that Facebook's login tool is used by 80 percent of the top apps on iOS and Android, this change has a ripple effect: Even if you don't have a Facebook account, you'll still be able to bypass the registration rigmarole for an app you're not even sure you'll like.
Anonymous Login is one of a few privacy and identity tools Facebook announced for app developers at Wednesday's F8 conference in San Francisco. If you choose to log in to an app using your Facebook account information, you have the option to edit the information you share with the app. Last year, Facebook changed app permissions to require apps to tell you the information they were asking for and let you choose whether the app could post to your account on your behalf. The new editing tools make those permissions more complex, but also give you more control over what third-party apps can see and do with your information.
"One of the things we've heard over and over again is people want more control over how they share their information, especially with apps," Zuckerberg told developers during his F8 keynote. "We take this really seriously. If people don't have the tools they need to feel comfortable using your apps, it's bad for them and it's bad for you."
People also want more control over the information their friends share about them, so now apps can only view your profile data and not the information your friends have shared about themselves with you. While these changes might not put users at ease right away, it seems Facebook is (finally) taking privacy seriously--and requiring the app developers it works with to do the same.