Concerned About Privacy? Opt Out Of Facebook App Permissions With fPrivacy [Chrome]

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facebook privacy 300   Concerned About Privacy? Opt Out Of Facebook App Permissions With fPrivacy [Chrome]As time goes by, I find there is an increasingly large number of things I can’t use, simply because I will not grant apps access to my Facebook data. Whether this is justified caution or the onset of paranoia doesn’t really matter; I hate it when apps ask for permission to access my friends list, access my birthdate, and worse of all, post on Facebook as me.

I do understand, of course, that some apps need certain information in order to provide the services they offer, but the permissions these apps ask for are many times exaggerated.

So while my friends keep playing Facebook games (and sending me invites) and generally enjoying the world of Facebook apps, I’ve been religiously ignoring it, and have added a very, very limited number of apps since I joined Facebook. If you feel the same way about these permissions, and were wishing for a way to control these permissions somewhat and block facebook apps, even if just to feel like you’ve done something to protect your privacy, fPrivacy for Chrome could be your new best friend.

Installing fPrivacy

fPrivacy (formerly OOptOut), is a Chrome extension which you can download from the Chrome Web Store. It’s as easy to install as any other extension, but you should bear in mind that it is not entirely like every other extension you can download.

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fprivacy 1   Concerned About Privacy? Opt Out Of Facebook App Permissions With fPrivacy [Chrome]

fPrivacy lets you opt out of certain Facebook app permissions, and choose what permissions you want or don’t want to give a certain app. It’s clearly stated on the extension’s page, and is also easy to figure out for yourself, that if you take away essential permissions from an app, it might not work.

Despite of what I’ve written in the introduction, sometimes even those weird-looking permissions, such as using your location, can be necessary for an app to work. So when installing and using fPrivacy, be warned that taking away too many permissions can cause the app to stop working, in which case you should try giving  some permissions back.

Using fPrivacy

fPrivacy is exceedingly easy to use, and if you use it intelligently, and opt out of permissions the app doesn’t really need in order to operate, it can be quite a life saver. I took fPrivacy for a test spin using the cool Timeline Cover app, CoverCanvas.

fprivacy 23   Concerned About Privacy? Opt Out Of Facebook App Permissions With fPrivacy [Chrome]

CoverCanvas is a very nice app, but it has one annoying feature: it posts on your wall every time you upload a new cover. As you can see above, these are the permissions the app asks for. I can see good reason for it to want to access my photos and videos, even my basic information. But there’s no real reason for an app like this to post things on my wall automatically.

I can decide to not use the app, as I’ve been doing, but with fPrivacy, I can revoke this specific permission, and still use the app for what it was intended for, which is creating unique cover photos for my Timeline profile. So now is the time to head over to the Chrome Web Store and install fPrivacy. Once it’s installed, try the app again.

fprivacy 3   Concerned About Privacy? Opt Out Of Facebook App Permissions With fPrivacy [Chrome]

After the extension is installed, you will find a new section has been added to the permissions window. As you can see, fPrivacy is not very glamorous-looking, but it gets the job done. Go over the various permissions, and remove the check marks from the ones you don’t want to grant the app.

fprivacy 4   Concerned About Privacy? Opt Out Of Facebook App Permissions With fPrivacy [Chrome]

I chose to remove only “publish_stream”, which lets the app post in my name, and “read_stream”, which let’s the app access posts in my news feed. If you’re not sure when a permission means, you can always check it against the list below, which is written in easy-to-understand English. That’s it. When you’re done, you can click on “Update”.

fprivacy 5   Concerned About Privacy? Opt Out Of Facebook App Permissions With fPrivacy [Chrome]

And there you have it. The permissions you chose to forego are not included in the list anymore, and you can grant the app only the permissions you want to grant it. In this case, I didn’t take away from the app anything that was necessary for it to work, so it continued to work like a charm. When I used it without fPrivacy, it posted on my wall when I uploaded a new canvas:

fprivacy 6   Concerned About Privacy? Opt Out Of Facebook App Permissions With fPrivacy [Chrome]

But when I used fPrivacy and revoked that permission, it just didn’t. This way, I could both control what I want or don’t want to post, and try many different covers without spamming my friends. Mission accomplished!

Bottom Line

fPrivacy is still a work in progress. The extension is fairly new, and the interface still leaves something to be desired. But even if it stays exactly as it is, it’s doing what it set out to do – help us control our privacy. While the best option might still be to not use Facebook apps at all, there’s no real reason to miss out on all the fun.

For more Facebook privacy tips, check out:

Do you have a problem with Facebook-app permissions, or do you authorize many of them without giving it a second thought? Do you know of more tools that help protect our online privacy? Tell use in the comments!

Image Credit: Lock Image via Shutterstock

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11 Comments - Write a Comment

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Gregory Estevez

I understand the issue with privacy. However, I don’t understand how come people  do not seem to realize that companies such as Google, and Facebook do not really care about you, All they care about is there money, Google, and Facebook are not spying on you, that would not be profitable for them. They want your information in order to customized the advertisements that you see, thus, they can charge more money. I ask you a question, do you rather be spam with junk advertisements, or would rather perceive ads that might be interesting to you. However, the issue lies on when is too much, where do we draw the line?

Keith Collyer

 Well said. If the service is free, you are not the customer, you are the product (can’t remember who said that)

Yaara

I agree with most of what you wrote. However, fPrivacy is more about opting out of permissions apps don’t necessarily need, such as posting on your wall. It’s not really about actual information since most apps won’t work properly without that information.

Whether it’s OK or not for these companies to mine our information for their ads is a different question. As it is, there’s no real way out, besides not using any of their products, which is definitely a challenge.

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missbossy

Don’t install this unless you want your Amazon experience hijacked. After installing this, I started getting nonstop coupish coupons when I was on Amazon.com. Turned it off and life is OK again. 

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missbossy

My bad. Please ignore my last comment. The culprit was another extension (History Calendar).

Aibek

thanks for letting us know

Yaara

 Thanks, I wasn’t getting any so it didn’t seem right. Will remember to avoid History Calendar!

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John Everett

So let me get this straight, if you are a Facebook user, and you are on, say, a newspaper’s website, and you happen to click on an article about that loopy Lindsay Lohan, the website will transmit that fact to Facebook and post a note about it, that your “friends” can see?

What if you stay logged out of Facebook except when you are actually on their site?

I am not a Facebook user, as you may have guessed.

Yaara Lancet

There are several websites that integrate with Facebook that way. I avoid them, personally. :)

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