Too Many Facebook Apps? How and Why You Should Remove Them ASAP

Limiting and Revoking Facebook App Permissions Can Keep Your Data Safe

Image of a person using Facebook
••• Image (c) Peter Macdiarmid / Staff / Getty Images

When you enter Facebook sweepstakes, take quizzes, or even use a 'quick log-in with Facebook' option on another website, you give applications from companies outside of Facebook permission to access some of your Facebook information and to collect data about you.

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 even make your friends vulnerable by giving access to your friends' list.

How much information each app collects will vary 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 applications. That adds up to a lot of third parties having access to personal information.

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 applications 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.

It only takes a few seconds to remove 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 reach.

Here are four easy steps to remove unnecessary applications 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 and then click on the "Privacy" icon at the upper right-hand side of your Facebook account. 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, and then click on "Show All".

3. Review Your Facebook Applications

Now that you have the full list, you can remove Facebook applications you no longer need. Some good reasons to remove these 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 which has since expired or a quiz which you have already taken.
  • The application requires too much access for the benefit you get from it.

4. Remove Facebook Applications You Don't Need

To remove Facebook apps you don't need anymore, 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 Applications

If you don't want to remove a Facebook application 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 application's name in your privacy settings, you can see whether each type of permission is required or not. For example, access to basic profile information might be required to use the Facebook application, but permission to post to your wall might not be.

If a level of access is not required, 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 Whether 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.

Click on the "Edit Settings" icon (it looks like a pencil) and you'll be able to see (and edit) which permissions you've given the app. You can view the privacy policy of the app to see what they do with your personal information, and you can even contact the developer and ask them to delete any data they've collected about you.

Some major warning signs 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 would not purposely endorse.

Now that you have your apps straightened out, check out how to avoid Facebook page scams and how to quickly unlike companies on Facebook.

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