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Building Private Mode and Other Sharing Controls into Your App

October 18, 2011BySachin Monga

The Open Graph, currently in beta, lets developers integrate the social activities happening in their apps with Facebook. At f8, we introduced new features like the Activity Log and the improved Auth Dialog to provide clear user controls for these new social apps. In addition to what’s available on Facebook, some developers have built their own controls that give people the option to temporarily go into a “private mode” or manage their activity from within the app.

Here are a few examples of in-app sharing controls:

Spotify is a social music app that lets people discover music through their friends. As part of their implementation, Spotify added a “Private Listening” mode for the times when people want to keep their listening activity to themselves. While Private Listening is on, listening activity isn’t posted to Facebook, even if the user is still signed in.

Yahoo! News built a deep implementation designed for people that want to share the articles they’re reading. Because this is a change to how people use the site, they created a prominent Social On/Off control that allows people to toggle sharing. When a user turns off "social reading" mode, the facepile showing their friends using the app is greyed out, making it clear that there's no live connection to Facebook.

In addition, Yahoo built a feature similar to our new Activity Log, that lets users see a list of articles they’ve read that have been shared to Facebook. If users change their mind about sharing an activity, they can delete a story from both Yahoo and Facebook with one click.

Implementing Private Mode and Granular Controls

Developers should build the privacy controls that make sense for their apps. If you choose to build a temporary “private mode,” you should ensure that no activity is published to Facebook. If you choose to include granular controls to allow users to retroactively remove activity, make sure that you’re updating Facebook so the change is reflected in peoples’ Timelines. This can be done with a simple HTTP DELETE request to

Yahoo and Spotify have designed their apps to remind people that they’re connected to Facebook and let them easily choose what they want to share. They show that you can build privacy controls for a variety of content and using different technologies. These controls make sense for their apps, but might not work for yours, so we encourage you to carefully consider your users’ expectations and build the controls that fit how people use your app.