Privacy concerns regarding Facebook continue to rise with time, and Facebook does not appear to do much to allay these. The giant social network says that it is working on improving privacy policies, but there are quite a few points of contention amongst Facebook and people who want to be able to choose exactly how they share their data and with whom. One of these is the fact that apps can allow your personal data to be accessed by friends, regardless of whether you set your data ‘private’ or not.
David Jacobs of the Electronic Privacy Information Center singled out Birthday apps as the perfect example of apps that share data without user permission. The worst part is that you could be sharing personal data even if you don’t use any apps yourself! The Wall Street Journal recently exposed how personal information could be released into the millions of Facebook users simply because your friends use gaming, quiz or other such apps. And it’s a given that most of your friends do.
A lot of people may dismiss this worrying fact about Facebook without as much as a second thought. Setting your privacy controls to ‘friends only’ would mean that your friends can see your birth date. Surely there’s no harm in that and everyone also remembers to wish you that way, pretty much. What’s disturbing about this is that even though you might have set your privacy controls to ‘friends only’, some stranger might still wish you a happy birthday. That happens because your personal data, which you thought was only visible to friends, can be shared through your friends’ apps to their friends and so on and so forth.
If this worries you, and it should, a fix has recently been made available by Facebook. This does seem to allow distinguishing between friends and app access. Facebook has been accused of being especially interested in everything you do and has often made it either difficult or impossible to opt out of sharing data and controlling what’s sent and to whom. But there are certain steps you can take to control what you share and you should take these steps instead of just sitting back and let a social networking site do as it pleases with your information.
Simply follow the steps below to prevent Facebook apps from sharing your data:
Step 1: Go to your ‘Privacy Settings’ page on Facebook.
Step 2: Select ‘Edit Settings’ beside ‘Apps and websites’.
Step 3: Click ‘Edit Settings’ next to ‘How people bring your info to apps they don’t use’.
Step 4: Uncheck whatever you are uncomfortable with apps using. This includes your birthday, photos (yes, some apps like Skype even collect photos of both subscribers and their friends!) and your status; online or otherwise. Ideally, uncheck all the boxes as you never know what sort of awful, spammy apps your Facebook friends are using.