Facebook Apps Aren't All Cute
Have you ever been on your computer and taken one of those ridiculous (and kinda fun) quizzes on Facebook that tell you which Harry Potter character you are or which superhero you look like?
If so, all your info is likely being shared with the quiz developers – whoever they may be. Those seemingly innocuous quizzes are actually apps designed to gain access to all of your personal information on Facebook.
The data mining doesn’t stop after you’ve finished taking the quiz. Once you’ve connected an app or website to your Facebook account, the developer can maintain that connection even months later. They can continue to request information about your profile and posts. They get this info directly off Facebook's servers and not your computer.
Facebook allows third-party developers to request access to personal information through more than 40 different “permissions”. The most basic permission is your “public profile”. Developers can ask for this information without any restriction.
Facebook has strict rules about how developers can use all of this information, but it has little means of enforcement. Often no action is taken against an abusive developer until after the damage is done.
What You Can Do Now
- Go into the Apps and websites section of your Facebook settings and remove any apps you don’t use or that require too many permissions
- Adjust your Facebook privacy settings to project yourself. From the Facebook menu bar choose Settings > Privacy Settings > Applications > Settings. You should see a screen similar to the screenshot earlier in the article. Deselect anything you don’t want shared without your permission
What You Can Do Going Forward
- Be aware that fraudsters dig through Facebook and other social networking sites looking for information to about you. Creating quizzes – any lame quiz appears to spread rapidly across Facebook – are one of the simplest methods they have to collect data. Say ‘no’ to those enticing Facebook quizzes
- Any time you connect an app or website to Facebook, review the permissions and deselect any that aren’t critical to the app’s required functions.
- Choose your Facebook friends wisely. Many people like getting hundreds of Facebook Friends. Anyone you accept as a Facebook friend will be able to view your profile and postings unless you say otherwise. Do you trust them?