I’ve stated in the past that I am very careful who I be-“friend” on Facebook. No professional contacts, no marginal ‘acquaintances’ – just genuine friends. Facebook security problems of the past have scared the heck out of me, so I have everything locked down to friends-only.

“Likes”, on the other hand, are limitless in my mind. I’ll gladly “Like” a web site, a fan page, or a group with no qualms whatsoever. And why not? If I “Like” the Swedish Bikini Mud Wrestling team, why should I be embarrased if only my closest friends know this rather than strangers and acquaintances on the periphery? (My friends will forgive me; a potential employer, maybe not so much.)

But does Facebook consider “friends” and “likes” to be equivalent? The reason I wonder, worriedly, is because I found my photo stream posted on the “Photos From Our Members” sidebar of one of the groups that I previously “liked”. Just because I “like” a group in no way means that I want to be-“friend” every one of that group’s members or expose my personal info to them. Anecdotal evidence suggests that Facebook treats “friends” and “likes” very similarly. Can group members and fan pages see my photos? My wall? My personal profile? That is so not cool.

As a programmer, I can concede that the mechanics behind “friend” and “like” are probably very similar and there may be considerable code re-use between those two actions. But the permissions model between the object types should be decidedly different. I’m not convinced that they are. I am searching for confirmation one way or the other…