Facebook Adds Easier Ways for Users to Remove Third Party Apps

Facebook is giving its users a new way to limit applications as part of the privacy settings changes it announced today. The changes probably won’t create massive changes in Platform traffic, but should make it easier for users to fully remove apps they don’t like.

Here’s a detailed look.

Located as a link within the new “Choose Your Privacy Settings” page in the main user account interface, you now have a single page to edit the access that you have previously provided to any application or web site.

The “What you’re using” section of this page shows you the total number of applications and web sites that you’re sharing data with, along with thumbnails of a random selection of them. It also includes two buttons, one that lets you “Remove unwanted or spammy applications” and another, as promised, that allows you to “Turn off all platform applications.”

The  buttons take you to two very similar interfaces: A window that shows you all of the apps you added, with a check box by each one. You can then scroll through the entire list, checking an apps you want to remove. Or, if you want to delete everything, you can just hit “Select All” before clicking to remove.

The difference between the two buttons is that the former one asks you to “Remove Selected” once you’ve picked which apps to get rid of, whereas the latter one says “Turn Off Platform.”

Just in case a user hits Select All but doesn’t realize that the process will delete their hard-earned farm in FarmVille, Facebook includes this warning for users:

Select the platform applications and websites you want to remove. Once removed, information and settings you’ve saved may be permanently deleted and friends won’t be able to interact with you using those applications and websites.

To remove apps before, you had to manually click and remove each app — if you had installed a lot of apps, that process took a long time. Note that this process is still available, under “Application Settings” in the main account settings interface.

Also, Facebook says that even if users delete all their apps, that will not be the end of their Platform experience. From a company developer blog post today:

Users will have multiple opportunities to turn Platform back on. For example, when users who have turned off Platform click a Facebook login button in your application, they will be prompted to turn Platform back on before they can continue. Likewise, social plugins will not show any personalized content for these users until they click a “Turn Platform on” button on the plugin.

The rest of the page appears to be repurposed from earlier designs to the site, with basically no substantial changes. You can decide who sees your activity in applications (as long as your activity isn’t public by default), what information your friends will be able to see about you within applications they use, the option to limit what public information about you appears in web search engine results, and the option to opt-out of the Instant Personalization program.

On that last item, many critics have called for Facebook to make Instant Personalization an opt-in process, and the company has not done so. While the program is only live on three sites, including Yelp and Pandora, it is controversial because Facebook provides these pre-approved partners with what it calls “General Information” about Facebook users, such as people’s names, and friend lists. Although Facebook is giving users more control over some aspects of their data, anything it has defined as General Information will continue to be available to applications or web sites.

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