If you’ve ever wondered what kind of music your Facebook friends listen to on Pandora, the online streaming Internet service now has an app for that. Linking your Pandora account to your Facebook account enables you to survey the channel tastes of your Facebook friends.
After months of “furious activity,” the feature is now ready, Pandora says. “Now your friends can be a daily source of inspiration for new stations and music discovery,” explains Pandora founder Tim Westergren on his blog. “I’ve been testing out the service while we were developing it and I have to say it really brings a wonderful new human dimension to the listening experience.”
The new app isn’t hard to access (instructions here). In the lower right of Pandora’s homepage you’ll see a box that says “Friends’ Music.” Click “check it out,” and then “Connect with Facebook.”
So I did that. And the next thing I knew, I had a complete list the Pandora channels accessed by my Facebook friends. But you know what? I’m not entirely sure that some of my Facebook buddies want me to know that they have a Lady Gaga channel, or they dig a band named Audioslave, or they listen to Lily Allen’s hit tune “Fuck You.”
Don’t get me wrong. My friends are a pretty cool bunch of people. But do they know I’ve got access to this information now?
I called up my partner (also a Facebook friend) and told her I had taken a look at the Pandora channels she’d accessed. “That’s interesting,” she replied, “since I only went on Pandora once.” So my guess is that Facebook users are automatically opted into this Pandora/Facebook relationship on a default basis. You sign into Friends Music, and you get to see your friends’ music whether they like it or not.
The question then is, how do you opt-out? The friends page says:
TIP: Facebook features on Pandora are entirely optional. To connect, disconnect or reconnect at any time, click here.
From there you’re given three Facebook check box options: “Always share current song,” “Always share current station,” or “Ask each time.” And you can also disconnect from Facebook, presumably after you’ve signed up with the linking service. But it appears that lots of my friends are automatically opted into the “check-out-your-friends” aspect of this new feature, free of charge, unless they’ve taken the precaution of adjusting their privacy options.
Anyway, sorry to rain on this particular parade. Obviously new music discovery and sharing are a wonderful thing. And I love Pandora dearly. But as I’ve complained before, too many social networking applications automatically opt you into stuff when they shouldn’t. Let’s hear it for new music discovery, when you want your music discovered.
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