Facebook App Privacy

Ever invited a friend over for dinner and gave them a tour of the house?  What if afterwards, that friend just entered your house a week later and walked all around?  That’d be kind of creepy.  But that’s what Facebook Apps can do.

So if you’ve ever seen a friend post on Facebook about a contest entry with a link and picture for the contest, the chances are they did that without a lot of effort.  Much of the stuff was supplied to them using a Facebook app.  They just added a small bit of writing perhaps.  Well, you click on the link and you see something like this on the page you are on:

Notice the details say, “enabling social features that, among other things, will enable you to participate in our sweepstakes.”  Hmm…let’s see what those other things are. So you click on the box and then continue and are taken to a page that looks like this:

We’re actually on the Facebook page now.  In the left-hand side, you see we’re able to control who can see what this app posts.  To avoid spamming your friends, change this to “Only Me”, unless the app needs to post stuff your friend want to see.  On the right-hand side, we see the list of permissions this app has.  Wow.  This can access a ton of things.  Things you like when your birthday is, what your friends like, what your friends’ birthdays are.  Your photos and videos! This is where you’d want to be very cautious. I’m pretty sure Amazon isn’t going to be using this stuff except for extreme data-mining for marketing purposes.  But if you were using some “horoscope” app that wanted all of your pictures, you should really think twice about that.

Well, let’s see what apps we have.  To do this, go to the settings in the upper-right and then “Account Settings”.  You can also try clicking here.

Once you get to that screen, look for “Apps” in the left-hand column.  Select that and you’ll see all the apps that have authorization to your account.

You can click on each app to bring up more details about what it can access and some other settings.  Let’s click on “See details” under “Last data access:”

So you can see that this app has gone and pulled a lot of data.  And it didn’t do it all at once.  I got my friends’ stuff and my basic information on October 9th, and got my stuff (or perhaps got an update of it) on October 10th. They haven’t pulled any photos, but that doesn’t mean they couldn’t do it tomorrow.

There’s a handy “Remove App” option here.  Let’s go ahead and do that so it can’t pull more data in the future.

So look at the app list and see if apps need cleaning up.  And also, look at what the app is asking for.  If it’s just a game, it doesn’t need all this personal information.  The game developer might be using the game to collect that information and sell it to a third-party.

And not all apps are bad.  For example, TweetDeck needs access to my Facebook account so it can posts tweets.  So some of it just boils down to common sense.

If you made it this far, congratulations. Maybe you want to head over to Logan Apps and register for a giveaway we have going on.  Or follow me on Twitter.

Any questions?

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...