Facebook is a great tool for sharing your life with your friends. But it’s also easy to over share information you may not want others to have access too also. The default privacy settings on Facebook are very lax and the options to keep things more private are purposely put in hard to find locations.
Here is an example of a typical Facebook application. While they add more functionality to your Facebook experience, they may also be given access to not just your own personal information but information of your friends also. As you can see in the red circled area, this application would have access to the education histories, locations, and work histories of all of your Facebook friends also. While some may be OK with their friends sharing their personal information with random applications they find on Facebook, most of us would be concerned about sharing that info with unknown persons or companies.
Facebook does allow users to block applications from being allow access to their information but the settings are hidden away a bit. To keep your friend’s applications from sharing your private information, follow the steps below.
1) Click on the triangle in the upper right corner of the Facebook window next to your name and the Home button. Select Privacy Settings.
2) To the right of the ‘Apps and Websites’ option, click on ‘Edit Settings’.
3) Click the Edit Settings button to the right of ‘How people bring your info to apps they use’.
4) Now you get to see all the information about you that your friends may be sharing with any application they choose to install. Since anyone can sign up to be a Facebook app developer, almost anyone may have access to your information. Your status updates, your pictures, your phone number and email address, when you’re online and much more. Scary really. By default only Interested in and Religious and political views are off limits for sharing with any application your Facebook friends choose to install.
At this point you should uncheck the boxes of any information you don’t want your friends to be able to share with applications they install on their own Facebook account. In most cases we would suggest that you uncheck everything and save the changes. Even with all boxes unchecked, applications will still have access to your friend list, gender and any information that you’ve made public on your Facebook account. If you want to block applications from accessing this information too, you must turn off all apps as shown below.
By turning off all apps, you not only block others from sharing your information but it also means you cannot use any applications either. No Words With Friends, Farmville, or any of the others. For some people this may be an issue but one must decide between playing Facebook games and personal privacy.
Facebook is a great way to share with those in your life. While they want to make the process of sharing with others as simple as possible it also leaves very little in the way of privacy for users and many aren’t aware of what information is being shared with who. By thoroughly going through your privacy settings, users can make sure that Facebook is only sharing information that they’re comfortable giving to others.