Thursday, April 14, 2011

Facebook Security Part III - Apps and Websites

Did you know that every time you play a game, fill out a quiz, or upload information from a third party website (ie. CBC or Instagram), you are sharing all sorts of information about yourself? Not only that, but every time you use an App, you are also giving away information about your friends? That also works the other way too - every time your friends plays a game your information is being shared with third parties. Yes. It's true. But luckily you can change these settings.

Click on Account > Privacy Settings in the top right corner of your Facebook profile.  Click on Apps and Websites in the lower left corner.  The following page will appear:

Apps You Use
Facebook gives users an easy way to remove applications from their profile (applications can be anything from games to quizzes to website giveaways). You'd be surprised how quickly the list of applications you're using can grow! Remove any that don't look familiar to you or that you're no longer using.
Any application you use has access to your information and provides a potential avenue for your information to be leaked or stolen. Reduce this risk by reducing the number of applications you use.  You can also click on each application to see what information is being shared.  Some information is required to use that app, while other information can be removed. By default every app will require your name, profile picture, gender, networks, user ID, list of friends, and any other information you have shared with everyone.  The date beside the app name is the last time your personal information was harvested. 
You can also turn off all platform apps to better secure your information.

Info Accessible Through Your Friends
Here you want to uncheck everything. Checking any option on this list allows an application that a friend uses - one that you might not even use - to access the checked information about you. In general, the less you have under your control, the more vulnerable your information.

Game and App Activity
If you have a group of friends that you play games with, consider creating a custom group just for them so only they can see your game-related posts and requests. This way you are not bombarding all your friends who do not play Farmville with requests for cows.  Personally I have changed mine to "Only Me".

Instant Personanlization
This is an opt-in option to have Facebook partner websites (like Yelp, Pandora and Rotten Tomatoes) pull your Facebook information and enable greater customization and sharing options. Though these sites are 'trusted partners' of Facebook, they add a layer of risk to your information. Double-check this page and ensure that instant personalization is not checked.

Public Search
I personally recommend that you disable this option. If it is enabled then it allows search engines to index your information in addition to letting people find you on Facebook using an external search engine. If you have this enabled, once your profile has been indexed by a search engine, you lose control over that information and over how long it can be seen.

Next review will be of "Account Security".
To read all the posts in this series, click here

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