Third-Party Apps Are Gossiping About You

Gossiping650Tailoring your News Feed to your interests and likes has been a core concept of Facebook since its early beginnings. But have you noticed that now, when Facebook recommends a store, brand, film, etc., it also lets you know which of your friends like it, too? When that happens, do you scratch your head and say to yourself, “Well, how do they know what my friends like?”

The answer is that all of the third-party applications you and your friends have installed on your computers have access to your information. And boy, do those apps like to gossip. Ok, maybe they’re not GOSSIPING, but they are trading information back and forth, even when you’re not specifically using the app in question.

In their ongoing quest to “enhance your social experience,” Facebook allowed third-party apps to not only have access to your data, but also the information you can see from your friends. Or, put another way, even if you’ve locked your account up tighter than Fort Knox, someone on your friends list who is not quite as diligent at locking their privacy could be giving out all your particulars.

Users NEED to understand that Facebook privacy is a tenuous thing, at best. Taking precautions with your profile and privacy settings is hugely important. And now, with the fast-growing proliferation of new apps hitting the digital universe, it is even more important to lock the gate against the information flow from these apps.

So before posting a long, passive-aggressive rant about your dummy friends and their privacy idiocies compromising YOURS, take a look at your own app settings.

App Settings

To get to the app settings page, simply click on the settings drop-down on the top-right corner of the Facebook banner (it looks like a downward facing arrow).

This brings you to the settings page, where in the left-hand column you can find apps. Click on that and you’ll see the apps page.

On the apps page, you can edit who can see it and how you’re notified. It also tells you what information it needs and shows other pertinent details, including how to remove or report the app.

It’s a good rule of thumb to go through your apps list every quarter and delete the ones you don’t use, because even if you’ve gotten bored with Candy Crush Saga or the latest quiz, they’re still there and still pulling data. In addition, even though you may delete apps, any data they pulled prior to deletion is still on third-party companies’ servers.

Now, let’s look at your friends’ apps.

Apps Others Use

On this page, simply uncheck the information you don’t want shared.

This is where the third-party apps are getting your vitals, so if you don’t want that information circulating, leave the page blank, save changes and move on.

Facebook also offers a way for users to completely disable ALL apps from their page — a scorched Earth answer to apps. Under “Apps You Use,” the first line says, “Use apps, plugins, games and websites on Facebook and elsewhere?” Change the answer to no, save changes and you will never have to deal with apps again. Well, until something changes. And then you can check back here to see what’s what.

Be aware, though, that you will not be able to use any apps of any kind on Facebook once you turned the platform off.  Nor will you be able to login to other sites using your Facebook credentials. That sucks, so you probably don’t want to do it.

Mindful of the ongoing concerns about privacy, Facebook is looking into ways to allow users to use apps without having to login. Back in April, at the F8 developer’s conference, Facebook announced Anonymous Login. The new login is designed for users who don’t want to share their information when they use an app. It will give the users the opportunity to share their information later, if they so desire.

According to Facebook, Anonymous Login is being shared with developers for testing, and it will be rolling out in the next few months.

Facebook users want to be able to login to multiple sites without having to remember several different user names and passwords. Nor do they want to have their personal information shared without their knowledge or consent. Locking down your account settings and Anonymous Login may let those users eat their cake and have it too.

Readers: Have you examined your app settings recently?

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

@MaryCLong Mary C. Long is Chief Ghost at Digital Media Ghost. She writes about everything online and is published widely, with a focus on privacy concerns, specifically social sabotage.