When it comes to privacy, the world’s most popular social networking site may be putting its worst face forward.

Facebook’s increasingly lax privacy settings are irking many of the website’s 400 million members, sparking calls to log off for good.

“They’re basically giving a take-it-or-leave-it choice to users. Well, users are leaving, and taking all their information with them,” said Ari Schwartz, vice president of the Center for Democracy & Technology, which monitors Internet privacy.

The debate has become so heated that Facebook has scheduled a companywide meeting on privacy Thursday at its California headquarters, according to allfacebook.com, a leading Facebook resource blog.

The most contentious of recent Facebook tweaks involves the “instant personalization” service, which automatically feeds users’ profile information to third-party partners such as Yelp and Pandora.

“That’s not what people signed up for originally,” Schwartz said. “They didn’t think their friend from camp would be sharing their personal details with Yelp.”

The six-year-old site is just trying to make a buck, others said.

“Facebook is just trying to become a more profitable company and trying to put themselves in a situation to provide advertisers with enough data to do efficacious selling,” said Shelly Palmer, a tech expert and TV host.

But such efforts seem to be turning members off. Google searches on how to delete Facebook accounts have skyrocketed, four U.S. senators last month sent a letter to the company denouncing new privacy settings and multiple privacy lawsuits have been filed against Facebook.

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“I don’t like it at all when my conversations are seen by others, but I have more concerns about my personal information being sent to other sites,” said Matt Allen, 21, of Ridgewood. “I’m very tempted to drop my Facebook.”

Free Press, a media reform group, has started a campaign urging people to quit — admittedly a difficult task after years of building a profile.

“Facebook is the tool that keeps me connected with my old friends,” said Ray Sasaki, 24, of East Harlem. Experts admitted Wednesday there isn’t a service that comes close to rivaling Facebook in membership and convenience.

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has defended his company’s evolution, last month saying, “We are building toward a Web where the default is social.”

Facebook officials did not return requests for comment Wednesday.

“You can’t say they weren’t warned,” Schwartz said. “Trust is key to what they do, and losing that is going to hurt what they do.”

Robert Levin contributed to this story.



Want to be Facebook-free?
For now:
* Click “deactivate” under “account settings.”
* Profile no longer appears on Facebook, but information is saved so you can reactivate later.

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* Go to “help center” and enter “permanently delete” in search bar for link to submit request. (Yes, it’s that roundabout.)
* Profile is saved for 14 days before deletion, just in case you change your mind.

(Emily Ngo)