Using third-party apps on Facebook is widely known to be somewhat of a minefield in terms of what will be posted ‘on your behalf’ by the app, and what personal information of yours that the apps will have access to. Last Friday Facebook announced some changes to its data use policy in an attempt to “enhance transparency” by posting a lengthy blog in the Facebook Privacy section of the social network.
The updates are set to include better explanations, examples, some revelations about how third-parties deal with users’ data and some ‘tips’ on how best to configure your settings. You can read the whole entry here on the Facebook Privacy blog.
I won’t dissect the whole batch of intended changes, but I do want to focus on the point that whether unknowingly or unintentionally, it is possible that your friends may be inadvertently sharingyourinformation whentheyuse a third-party app.
This excerpt from the blog illustrates the point:
“Your friend might also want to share the music you “like” on Facebook. If you have made that information public, then the application can access it just like anyone else. But if you’ve shared your likes with just your friends, the application could ask your friend for permission to share them”
Something else explained in Facebook’s blog that is worth taking note of is to do with what happens to your data if you decide to delete an app from your profile. Well, the app may no longer have access to your live account, but it will still have all the data you previously granted it permission to use.
If you want an application to delete the information that it holds about you, you will need to directly ask them to do this. Facebook clarified this point by saying that “if you’ve removed an application and want them to delete the information you’ve already shared with them, you should contact the application and ask them to delete it.”
In the past, even Facebook themselves have been somewhat sluggish when it comes to actually deleting your data. The social network says that it can take around 90 days (or in some cases, three years) for a deleted account or even photo to completely disappear from the web. Yet any content external to your account, such as posts to a group or private messages to another user, will remain stored on Facebook.
So plenty to think about here. When you say or do something online it can be very difficult to backtrack or to erase what has gone on before, especially if you don’t control the medium on which a statement was made. Likewise if you are sharing your own information with friends on social networks who are less privacy conscious than yourself, they may end up sharing your content with a wider audience than you’d wished for.