mark zuckerberg

You Should Really Take a Look at Your Third-Party Facebook Apps

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Based on what has happened with Facebook and the research firm Cambridge Analytica, it’s no surprise that users are concerned about their data and personal information.   If you haven’t heard, Cambridge Analytica procured personal data from as many as 50 million Facebook users and then used that data as part of its work on President Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign.  Although, Facebook claims that Cambridge Analytica and its associates broke the rules in retaining and using this data.  Further, they suggest that this isn’t a data breach like we normally think of them.  Users “willingly” gave over their information when they signed up for a personality quiz app.  Are you scratching your head on this one too?

While I’m not saying that this is a good strategy, but honestly who reads the fine print?  Especially when you’re signing up for a Facebook third-party app.  Now you have to as developers can request to see your relationship status, education history and even religious and political beliefs – if you have that information about yourself on Facebook.  There are a ton of apps out there that can access certain information because you “allow” it in one way or another.  That said, it’s a good time to revisit the third-party apps that you’ve granted permission to access your Facebook data and review.

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How do you find this information exactly?  Well, you won’t find it in Facebook’s privacy settings.  Instead, you’ll need to go to the App Settings page.  On the desktop interface, click the downward arrow in the top-right corner and select Settings. Then select Apps from the menu. On the apps page, you’ll see all the apps where you’ve logged into Facebook. On mobile, tap the menu bar (bottom-right for iOS, top-right for Android), and select Settings > Account Settings > Apps > Logged in with Facebook.

You can limit an app’s permissions without fully revoking it.  Click on the edit button (pencil icon), next to the remove button, to view each app’s individual settings, where you can see all of the data that’s visible to the app. You can revoke specific permissions by deselecting the checkmark next to each data point.  But revoking those permissions doesn’t mean that you’ve removed that data completely from the third-party app’s servers.   Becuase third-party apps may have already stored data on you, you’ll need to contact the app developer to delete that information.

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You can do this on Facebook in the app’s individual settings page.  On the bottom right-hand corner of the settings window, click on Report App.  Then select, I want to send my own message to the developer.  There, you can request that they remove any information they have stored.  There is no guarantee that the developer will respect your request, but it’s it’s worth a try.

Because Facebook’s privacy policy changes from time to time, it’s important to check your third-party app settings on a regular basis.  Annoying, right?  Facebook apps that you connected to pre-2014 might have a ton of information on you because that was the default setting during that time.  This is an incredibly scary scenario, so I suggest that everyone exercise diligence when it comes to using Facebook and any third party apps.

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