Protecting Your Privacy: Check those Facebook apps

An occasional series aimed at making our online lives more secure

Although we may feel that we are on top of our Facebook privacy settings, there are a few areas that we rarely bother to review. One of those areas concerns all the third-party games and other apps that we have picked up – sometimes unwittingly – during our time as a Facebook member.

In many cases, we have given these apps permission to access our most personal data, whether or not we are still using the app or even know that it’s there. Depending on our friends’ privacy settings, those apps might also be “scraping” their personal data, resulting in spam, unwanted advertising, and even phishing attacks.

But first, how do we even find out which apps we have on our Facebook account? The best place to start is with our Privacy Settings, where we can also make the necessary adjustments.

  • Click on the arrow next to Account in the top right-hand corner of your home page, and then click on Privacy Settings.

  • Scroll down to Apps and Websites and click Edit your settings.

  • The first item on this page will be a summary of the Apps you use. Click on Edit Settings to see a more detailed list.

  • These are all the apps that you have allowed to interact with your Facebook account. By clicking on Edit Settings to the right of each app, you can see exactly what the app is allowed to do. Many Facebook users will be surprised to see the number of apps that they have previously authorized, and the amount of personal information that each app is allowed to collect.

  • If you are no longer using the app, or you are unhappy with what the app can access, then you can click on Remove app. If you want to continue to use the app, then Edit Settings will tell you exactly what information is required by the app and what can be hidden.

The Apps, Games and Websites privacy page also allows you to control how much of your information is accessible through the activities of your friends. If you click the Edit Settings button next to this option, you will get a window with a comprehensive list of options. (See panel below.) Again, we recommend that only your basic information is made available to these third-party apps and web sites.

Got a question on Facebook or other privacy concerns? Use the comments box below and The Online Mom will be happy to help!

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