Facebook apps are a way for third parties to offer features and services inside Facebook. If you spend a lot of time on Facebook and love to share activities with friends, such as playing games or listening to music, apps are a godsend. The downside, however, is that most apps need access to your personal data and some require additional privileges. Hence, third party apps can become a security risk.
Do you know how many apps you have granted access to your personal data? And are you aware to what level they can interact with your profile? If you don’t, it’s time to find out. This article explains what different levels of access exist and how you can manage your apps.
Finding Your Installed Apps
You can quickly get an overview of your installed apps by going to the Apps tab under your Account Settings. To open Account Settings, click the little arrowhead in the top right of your profile and choose the respective option from the drop-down menu.
The App Settings page not only shows you which apps you have granted access to your Facebook profile. You can also see a summary of what each app has access to, what information it actually has accessed, when it was last used, and finally you can edit and remove apps. Let’s inspect these options in more detail.
Another way to access your apps is via the My Apps page in the App Center. Here you can click on Settings in the bottom right of each app to manage the respective app.
Levels of Access
Apps can demand access rights to very different types of information and activities on your Facebook profile. Below is an overview, which includes every type of access I could find within my apps. Thus, the lists are possibly incomplete.
- your email address.
- your profile info, including description, activities, birthday, education history, groups, hometowns, interests, likes, locations, relationship status, relationship details, religious and political views, status updates, websites, and work history.
- your stories, including check-ins, events, notes, photos, status updates, and videos.
- friends’ profile info, including descriptions, activities, birthdays, education histories, groups, hometowns, interests, likes, locations, relationship status, relationship details, religious and political views, website, and work histories.
- stories shared with you, including check-ins, events, notes, photos, status updates, and videos.
- permission to access your data when you’re offline.
You cannot change what data an app has access to. So once you granted this access, you have to remove the entire app to withdraw that permission. Moreover, any data the app has collected while it had access, potentially remains in its possession.
What you can withdraw selectively, are any of the following rights.
- post on your behalf, including status updates, photos, and more.
- access your contact information.
- access your friends’ contact information.
- access posts in your News Feed.
- access your data any time, i.e. when you are not using the application.
Now let’s see how you can manage your apps.
Edit & Remove Apps
From the Apps under Account Settings, pick an app from the list and click Edit on the far right or simply click the whole entry. This will open a window showing what information the respective app has access to or what it can do on your profile.
The app I picked (Pulse) needs my email address, was granted to post on my behalf, as well as access my News Feed and data any time. However, it hasn’t accessed any of my data, yet. Only my friends can see posts this app makes.
I find this level of access a bit much for an app that merely provides news updates. Thus I decided to remove what the app can do. You can remove any of the access rights you have granted. Moreover, you can change who can see posts this app makes for you on your Facebook Timeline, if you allow it to do that in the first place.
As mentioned previously, you can not change access to whatever is listed under ‘This app needs:‘, you can only remove the entire app. In case you want to remove an app, click the X on its far right or, when in the Edit window, click Remove app in the top right.
When removing an app, you will be asked to confirm the decision and at the same time you are given the option to delete all your activity related to this app on Facebook. This may come in handy in case this app posted updates to your Timeline that you would like to see removed.
Add Apps To Favorites
Apps you use often are shown in a list at the bottom of the left menu. This list changes, depending on how often you use an app and although this list represents your Bookmarks, you have little influence over it. However, you can add apps to your Favorites that are listed in the top of the menu. Go to the list of Apps that have recently appeared in your Bookmarks, click the little pen icon to its left and choose Add to Favorites.
You can block selected apps and there are two ways to do this. Either you received a request for an app. This will be listed under Requests in the App Center. Go there, click the X next to the request to delete it and click the Block (App Name) link in the yellow box that comes up.
To block or unblock apps, go to your Privacy Settings, click Manage Blocking in the bottom right, and scroll down to the Block Apps section. Here you can block apps by entering their name into the text field and selecting it from a list, or Unblock apps that have been blocked previously.
It is in your hands to decide what level of access you are willing to grant a third party Facebook app. After you have authorized an app to interact with your Facebook profile, you can revoke that access anytime. However, in some cases you might have to remove the entire app and data collected up to that point may not be reclaimed.
For a more thorough coverage of Facebook Apps, visit the Apps, Games & Credits section in the Facebook Help Center.
How many Facebook apps do you have? Did you find any that you don’t remember authorizing? Have you removed access rights or apps as a result of this article?