Many Facebook users have an aversion to third party Facebook applications and rightly so. The platform is riddled with rogue apps that are used to spread spam, scams and malware. Also, it is a huge privacy risk to give unknown application developers access to your private Facebook data.
You might be surprised to know that applications your friends use can access certain elements of your Facebook profile. These include your birthday, status updates, photos, hometown, current city and app activity.
For the privacy conscious individual, you have a couple of options available to address this issue:
You can disable all platform apps. This is obviously the most direct and definitive approach. This will totally prohibit any third party Facebook application from accessing your account. This option can be accessed in your App Settings by clicking the Apps tab in the left column. You’ll need to scroll down and look for the block that reads, “Apps, Websites and Plugins.” Click the edit link and select to disable the platform.
If the above approach is too extreme for you, then there is another privacy setting you can modify to further limit access to your profile data. On the same App Settings page shown above, look for ‘Apps others use’ and click the ‘Edit Settings’ link.
You can then use the check boxes to prohibit your friend’s apps from accessing specific categories of your data. Anything with a check mark will be shared with your friends. Remove the check marks to restrict access to your account.
Facebook has often come under fire for having poor and confusing privacy controls. Just the fact that your friends have access to your data without your consent shows the nature of the problem. To help users get a better grasp of their privacy settings, Avi Charkham has created a couple of websites that provide shortcuts to specific Facebook settings.
Appblock.org links users directly to the Facebook mobile site where users can limit the access of a friend’s installed applications.
Mypermissions.org was created last year by Charkham. This link takes you directly to the application settings page for Facebook and other popular social networking platforms.
Updated September 2014