How to minimise the risk of your Facebook data being shared with third parties

Some tips to prevent your Facebook data from being shared with third party apps and services

Written by Meghna Dutta | Updated: May 29, 2018 10:31:28 am

Cambridge Analytica scandal made a ruckus in the social platform this week and pulled Facebook under intense scrutiny. The British data firm that worked on American President Donald Trump’s campaign scraped private data from over 50 million users via the social network without ‘their consent.’ Courtesy of the social media platform that allowed software developers to access data and gather information about users and their connections to the Facebook account as well. It paved the way for Aleksandr Kogan (neuroscientist at Cambridge University) to collect data by putting a personality quiz test in 2013 on Facebook. The company did restrict outside developers to access ‘the amount of data’ by 2015, but the damage was already done.

The animosity has now impelled the company to be firm in data sharing across the social media platform. Facebook’s CEO Mark apologized for the way his company’ handled Cambridge Analytica controversy ‘data revelations’ and said they have laid out a ‘multipart plan’ to reduce the ‘amount of data’ shared by users with developers. But even if Facebook has pledged to ‘enforce its policies’ to protect users information, the damage has stirred a massive outcry from users. More than 10,000 times the hashtag #DeleteFacebook appeared on Twitter and several users must have already quitted the social network. Experts did cite (via Ars Technica) that tracking down and securing information becomes difficult once it is released on the e-hub. But is deleting your Facebook account a good solution?

Facebook had changed policies and limited third-party apps from gaining access to data from user’s friends, but the apps could still collect some information, for instance, your birth date, political views, devices you are connected to. And while most of you might not be aware of how to restrict the access, we have mentioned these few steps that could help you safeguard your privacy on the platform to some extent. Here is what you need to know:

Word of caution! First things first do not signup for any third-party app or service using your Facebook credentials, no matter what promises they make about sharing your personal information. In case you have let other apps, games to access your information, you can simply revoke those permissions by following these steps:

  1. Open your Facebook account and then click on Settings
  2. Once the Settings page is opened, you will see Apps option below Public Posts
  3. Click on the option and it will lead you to the Apps Settings, showing apps that you have let access your data.
    facebook-app-settings_750
  4. Open the app you want to revoke permissions for, a window will pop up where you will see App Visibility option, information that you have provided and some other options.
  5. You can uncheck the friend list. However, basic details like your name, age, gender, profile picture info access permission can be edited only while creating a new Facebook accountapps-settings-page[Unfortunately, you can’t uncheck these basic details as these are pre-requisites needed to sign up and access any app]

In case you want to remove information collected by an app, Facebook guidelines say since the apps are managed outside of Facebook it can be handled only by the app developer. Steps to contact an app developer are as follows:

  1. Open the app or game
  2. The app once open, click “Report/Contact” in the bottom right corner

Facebook notes in order to make changes and solve the issue, developers might require your user ID. You can look for your user ID by tapping on an app edit button, scroll down and find an option ‘Get Help from App Developers.’ That’s how you can find your user ID.

user-id-for-an-app

Your Facebook friends can also share your information (bio, birthday, family & relationships, interested in, religious & political views, your website, if you’re online, posts on your timeline, your hometown, current city, education & work, activities, interests, things you like, your app activity) with third-party apps they use. Phew! That’s one good list that gorges every little detail about you.

You can alter this by clicking on the “Apps Others Use” below the Apps section:

  1. Scroll down and select the Edit button on “Apps Others Use.”
  2. Once it opens, you will find the entire list of your data with tiny checkboxes on the left side of each option
  3. Uncheck the boxes that you don’t want your friends to share with third-party appsinformation-that-friends-can-use
  4. Once you have unchecked the boxes, click the Save button

While these options might help you prevent some information from being shared by your friends, it may not entirely save your data from being taken away by ‘outside developers.’ Facebook allows third-party apps to access the information mentioned above (except for religious & political views and interested in) by default.

And if you uncheck the boxes and prevent apps from accessing “other categories of information” like friend list, gender, etc., you will be unable to use games and apps for yourself (Nice trick, Facebook).

If you want to avert ‘interacting with apps’ on Facebook, then search for “Apps, Websites and Plugins” in the Apps Settings menu.

  1. You will find the “Apps, Websites and Plugins” above “Apps Other Use” optionapp-settings
  2. You will see Edit button, click on it
  3. The button once tapped it will lead you to ‘Turn Platform Off’ page
  4. The page shows a list of causes that will happen once you turn off the platform (few points impels not to turn platform off)
  5. Click on the Disable Platform button (if you want to plug out ‘Facebook integration’ on third-party apps)
    disable-platform-screenshot

If these steps are not enough and you still feel unsafe in this social hub, the last resort would be shutting down your Facebook account en masse. Of course, there’s an alternate button called ‘Deactivate’ that temporarily disables your profile. The button is a timer that gives you void chance to reconsider your decision of plugging out your Facebook account, but the data remains on the social platform. While these seem like a maze of instruction, it will at least help precluding third-apps from taking your precious images, important information without your consent.

We recommend you should refrain from giving access to your Facebook account while signing up for any third-party app or a website. Instead, you can manually authenticate your email address because that’s all it needs. It will take a couple more minutes, but at the end of the end, it’s for your own good, isn’t it?

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