Have you given too many companies access to the information you share on Facebook? If you haven't removed any apps recently, chances are you have. Here's why that's a problem, and what you can do about it.
Why You Should Remove Facebook Apps Regularly
When you enter Facebook sweepstakes, take quizzes, or even use the 'quick log-in with Facebook' option on another website, you give apps from companies outside of Facebook permission to access some of your information and to collect data about you.
Have you thought about how many companies have access to your Facebook info? The higher the number, the more vulnerable you are.
The data the apps collect can be used for marketing purposes, leading to more spam. If the company behind the app is not reliable, your private information can be used for even more nefarious purposes like harassing your friends or making you more vulnerable to hackers. And you can make your friends vulnerable by giving away access to your friends' list.
How much information each app collects varies from company to company. To enter a giveaway, for example, you might be asked to give the app access to your profile information, your location, the ability to post updates on your wall, access to your list of friends, and more. Some of this information is necessary for the app to do its job, but sometimes, companies ask for more permissions than they actually need.
Over time, you can end up granting permissions to many apps. That adds up to a lot of third parties having access to personal information. And if those companies sell the information they mined, that number can mushroom.
To protect your privacy on Facebook, take the time to review the applications that have access to your Facebook account regularly, and to remove any apps that you no longer use. For example, when a giveaway has expired or when you have finished taking a quiz, you can remove that app right away. Here's how to do it.
How to Remove Facebook Apps (Without Driving Yourself Crazy)
It only takes a few seconds to revoke access from Facebook apps. It's a smart idea to pick an easy-to-remember date, such as the first of every month, to review which apps have access and to remove them or limit their access.
Here are four easy steps to remove unnecessary apps from your Facebook accounts:
1. Open Your Facebook Privacy Settings
To access your privacy settings in Facebook, make sure that you're logged into your account, then click on the "Privacy" icon at the upper right-hand side of your Facebook page. It looks like a lock with three horizontal lines next to it. Then click on "See More Settings" at the bottom of the menu.
2. Edit Your Settings for Applications and Websites
Next, look for the "Apps" section on the left-hand side of the page, then click on "Show All".
3. Review Your Facebook Applications
Now that you have the full list, you can remove Facebook apps you no longer need. Some good reasons to remove Facebook applications include:
- You haven't used the app for a while, and don't plan to use it anytime soon.
- You signed up for the app because of a giveaway that's expired now or a quiz that you've already taken.
- The application requires too much access for the benefits you get from it.
4. Remove Facebook Applications You Don't Need
To remove Facebook apps, hover your mouse over the app, then click the X icon next to the application's name.
How to Limit or Revoke Access by 3rd Party Facebook Apps
If you don't want to remove a Facebook app altogether, you can also protect your privacy by restricting or revoking its access to your personal information.
By clicking on the "Edit Settings" link next to the app's name in your privacy settings, you can see what type of permission is required and what's optional. For example, access to basic profile information might be required to use the Facebook application, but you might be able to opt-out of giving permission to post to your wall.
If a level of access is not required to use the app, you'll see the option to "remove" that access. Click on the link to restrict the permissions you've granted Facebook applications.
What If You're Not Sure You Want to Remove the App?
Facebook's app screen gives you some additional information to help you decide whether you really want to remove the app or not.
Some major warning signs of apps you'll definitely want to remove are:
- Apps that ask to be able to manage your pages or events (especially if there's no good reason for them to do so).
- Apps that ask for full access to your Facebook account.
- Apps that want to be able to access your Facebook chat.
- Apps that ask for access to your friends' list.
All of those permission requests can lead to your account being used to spam your friends, set up bogus Facebook pages, and other underhanded marketing tactics which you don't want to participate in.
If the app in question doesn't do any of these things, then it's a judgment call. You can remove the permissions and add them again if you want to use the app in the future, or you can wait and see how you feel when you do your next pass-through at the date you've scheduled (you didn't skip that step, did you?).