Facebook Applications and User Privacy

September 22nd, 2009 |

About

Jeff Louis is a strategic media planner, brand project manager, blogger, and aspiring writer. He's intrigued by innovation overcoming adversity, survival of the fittest brand, history, reading, and similar fun stuff. He writes for sites and is the Public Relations and Advertising writer for the Chicago Examiner.

PhotobucketThe last couple of blogs I posted covered applications on Facebook, and how these applications basically were a trade-off between your privacy as a Facebook user (and that of all your friends) and using the application.  Thus, if you wanted to play Mafia Wars on Facebook, Mafia Wars will be able to access your personal information to use at their discretion. The Huffington Post describes the “loss of privacy” in a great article:

The frightening penetration of Facebook, My-space, Twitter and other virtual social communities adds a lot of leverage to this loss of privacy. What you say or write in confidence to someone, can possibly be advertised by that person or worse, by a hacker, and exposed to the whole 200 million users of Facebook or the 1 billion users of the Internet!

The Facebook Application and Privacy settings are found here. Per the agreement with the application:

When you authorize an application, it will be able to access any information associated with your account that it requires to work.

The application can access information like your personal info, photos, and notifications as well as your friends’ personal info (depending on their settings). Please note that your contact information (such as your email) is never available through Platform. All platform applications are obligated to respect all of your existing privacy settings when requesting this information and when displaying it to other users.

To ensure that you control your information, set up your application permissions using the information that you feel comfortable sharing; if you do not want to share your photos, uncheck the photo box. See the image below for details:

Photobucket

Thus even though the application has access to your information, you can allow or disallow certain items for sharing. One of the practices that I have adopted is that if I decide to try an application and I don’t think that I will use it, I simply delete the application and ensure that it is not listed in any of my application “category” settings. Currently, the only apps that I allow on Facebook are Tweetdeck, FriendFeed, and Facebook for Blackberry. Yet, due to the fact that my friends use various applications, I still need to ensure that my settings are set the way that I need them for my own privacy.

Even if you’re not certain what to allow, I would suggest that you at least look to see what your settings currently allow…you might be revealing more about yourself than you realize. If you have any questions on how to protect yourself, please feel free to contact me via a comment, or on Twitter. If I do not have the answer for you right away, I will be sure to find it.

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Jeff Louis
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  • http://www.inkatechnology.co.uk/ Facebook Applications

    this will soon turn into a high profile facebook revolt, just as it happend in the feeds feature over a year ago. young users are very techsavy and are quick to call foul if they feel their privacy is at risk. i think that’s what has really help facebook grow: ilusion of privacy. i am the type willing to let go of a little privacy in order to say: get better amazon recomendations or movies in netflix. some users don’t feel the same. using the arbirary opt in is probably going to piss a lot of people when the sheet starts to hit the fan, just like woopie said. it’s going to be kind of funny seeing the not so fb savy screw up by sahring the unshareable

  • http://www.inkatechnology.co.uk/ Facebook Applications

    this will soon turn into a high profile facebook revolt, just as it happend in the feeds feature over a year ago. young users are very techsavy and are quick to call foul if they feel their privacy is at risk. i think that’s what has really help facebook grow: ilusion of privacy. i am the type willing to let go of a little privacy in order to say: get better amazon recomendations or movies in netflix. some users don’t feel the same. using the arbirary opt in is probably going to piss a lot of people when the sheet starts to hit the fan, just like woopie said. it’s going to be kind of funny seeing the not so fb savy screw up by sahring the unshareable