Monthly Archives: October 2010

Facebook Privacy

A report released by the Wall Street Journal found that some of the most popular applications on Facebook, (which has 500 million users) including Zynga’s Farmville, have been releasing identifying information to Internet tracking and advertising companies. This activity has affected tens of millions of users — even those that had opted for the social network’s strictest privacy settings. Farmville is facebooks most popular app with 50 million users.

The leak goes against Facebook’s Privacy Policy, so there’s nothing you would have been able to do to stop it. What you can do? Stay away from facebook apps completely. But what will happen to your corn, and crops and farm? Still, one of Facebook’s newest features will allow you to monitor which applications are accessing which parts of your profile and, if you don’t like what you see, to block them completely. Knowing your way around this feature will help you to avoid becoming a part of the next privacy breach.

To see what information on your profile Facebook applications can access:

Log in to your facebook account and, on the top right-hand corner of the screen, click on “Account” and then “Privacy Settings.” On the bottom of the screen, choose “Edit your settings” from the “Applications and Websites” module. This page will show you how many applications, games and websites have access to your information and allow you to “Remove unwanted or spammy applications” (individually) with the click of a button. Or, you can choose “Edit Settings” and go through the list more thoroughly, like I did. I was astonished to learn that 111 applications were accessing my own information. I guess I had accepted more applications since becoming a member of facebook than I realized. Look at each application individually to see when they last accessed your information and which sections of your profile they have access to.

From the “Applications and Websites” page, you also have the option to “Turn off all platform applications.” That’s the easiest way to protect all of the data you share on Facebook. Some applications I am just not willing to give up, but there again, I’m also not afraid to share my data online, or I wouldn’t be posting blogs and status messages all the time. Just some food for thought.