Have you ever signed up or logged in to an app and bypassed creating a new account by using your Facebook account? Most likely, you were in such a rush to create an account with this third party app that you just kept clicking “Ok” and “Next” through the instructions. When you use your Facebook account to sign up for another app, you are giving that app access to the information in your Facebook account. This can include your friends, your location, your work, your photos, your groups, your birthday, and even your contact information.
If you haven’t reviewed these apps, now is as good a time as ever to look at what apps can access this information.
How to Look at Your Third Party Apps
Once in Facebook, click on the down arrow next to the question mark in the upper righthand corner. Then, click on Settings. In the left, you will see towards the bottom of the list, “Apps.” When you click on “Apps,” you’ll see all of the apps you have permitted access to your Facebook account. By default, “your name, profile picture, cover photo, gender, networks, username, and user id are always publicly available to both people and apps.” (Learn why here.) Some of the apps require this information. You can select what other information you give the apps access to, including your friends list, birthday, education history, hometown, and current city.
Change Who Can See the Apps You Use
At a minimum, you should edit your “App visibility” settings or who on Facebook can see which apps you use. This is important in protecting your identity, especially if some of your apps have confidential information. If you are searching for vacation rentals on AirBnB, you may not want the “Public” to know you are planning a 2-week vacation to backpack through Europe. You can tighten the security settings to “Only Me.” For apps such as Instagram, you want your friends to see your photos, so you can loosen the visibility settings to “Friends.”
Disconnect From Any Apps You Don’t Use
This is the easiest and safest practice. If you aren’t using and don’t plan on using it in the near future, simply remove it. In the future, you may be prompted to create an account with the app. Maybe your perspective will differ from before and you’ll be intentional with your app selection.
Be (More) In Control of Your Privacy
Nobody really knows where your information goes once you click, “Like,” or connect. Even if you read through the many, many, many pages of every security policy from every app, tool, website, and third party vendor, you still can’t be 100% certain your data isn’t spinning off in to some cosmic database for anyone and everyone to view. Take ownership of your privacy by being intentional with what accounts you create. Anything worth having (access to) takes time and shouldn’t be done hastily.
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