I am not generally scared about privacy. For instance, I have always thought that sites using cookies to remember a few things about me is a good idea and that the WSJ’s recent cookie story was mostly sensationalist. I also happily use foursquare to share my location with friends and use Twitter often several times a day.
Still, when I go to a site and see the Facebook social widgets, such as on Huffingtonpost, I am a bit freaked out by it. The fact that the widget shows your actual friends makes it eminently clear that Facebook knows who you are! And in case you did not realize this, Facebook also knows exactly which page you are on within Huffingtonpost’s site.
Being somewhat movie obsessed, I probably read a bit more movie industry gossip than I would care to admit (to myself and to others). Previously, I felt that if I am anonymously cookied by Huffingtonpost that is not a big deal — in fact, they can show me more movie content and even some movie ads and that’s a good thing. But I really don’t like the idea of Facebook (or any other third party service that actually knows who I am), also getting this information without my explicitly agreeing to give it to them!
So now I run three separate browsers. I use Chrome for some of the google workhorse stuff, such as gmail and google docs. I use Firefox for most of my regular content reading such as Techmeme and Hacker News. And I use Safari in private mode for gratuitous web browsing. While this seems like a bit of overkill and also makes for some cognitive overhead when switching between UIs, that seems a worthwhile trade-off to me for the time being. I would rather have some extra work than spilling more of my browsing history than I would like to.