A privacy protection company, Secure.me, recently analyzed half a million Facebook apps for their privacy and security settings and shared their findings with Mashable. The findings are, of course, rather disturbing. 63 percent of the apps analyzed asked users for permission to post on their behalf, while 69 percent asked for their email address. Perhaps most frightening of all, 21 percent of the apps analyzed can access the personal information of the user’s friends without the friends ever having interacted with the program. (To protect yourself from apps that your friends use, click here to see our guide)
”It has become second nature to connect various apps like Instagram, SocialCam, AngryBirds, CityVille, and Spotify to your Facebook ID,” Secure.me founder Christian Sigl told Mashable. “You just click ‘agree’ without even really knowing what you are agreeing to. What you don’t realize is that social apps linked to your Facebook profile can pretty much track your and your friends’ whole life. It doesn’t matter what your privacy settings are, the apps still get this information.”
When reached for a comment by Mashable, Facebook delivered the usual party line: “We give people a variety of tools to control their app experiences on Facebook, and hold developers to our Platform polices. Apps must specifically request the data they need to operate, including email addresses and publishing capability. After a user installs an app, apps are not permitted to post to that person’s Timeline without their consent. If an app is found to be in violation of these policies, we will take action against it.” Keep in mind that Facebook doesn’t have the ‘Walled Garden’ approach to applications that Apple does. Rather than investigating and approving applications before allowing them on the platform, Facebook takes a reactionary approach. They only act once enough users report the app or if they find out policies have been violated by other means. This means less privacy and security for Facebook users.
It’s clear that the act of giving permission to an app may be far more of an issue than Facebook lets on. So, in other words, it might be wise to think twice next time you give permission to an app. You might be giving away more than you think.
There is a great web app at http://mypermissions.org/ that can quickly show you who is accessing your data on Facebook and other popular platforms.
Do Not Track + is a FREE browser plugin created by Abine. This easy to install plugin keeps websites from tracking you. If you value your online privacy, then you should definitely take advantage of this free product.
BitDefender Safego is a Facebook application you can install that will scan your News Feed and help keep you safe from scams on Facebook.
PRIVATE WiFi® is a Personal VPN that encrypts everything you send and receive. Don’t access Facebook from a public WiFi hotspot without it.
Action Alert | Free Parental Control offers a 100% free Internet safety solution designed for parents. There is also a Maximum Protection option for parents that need a more advanced set of tools.