Security Tip: Deauthorize Old Facebook Applications to Protect Your Profile [Updated]

It’s no secret: Facebook hasn’t exactly won any awards for protecting your privacy lately.  But Facebook’s privacy policies aren’t the only thing you need to be concerned about when using the popular social network – you also need to keep an eye on the apps that have access to your information.

Whenever you use an app on Facebook (or even interact with apps your friends have installed), you grant the app certain permissions to access data in your Facebook account.  Now, a honest developer would only request that you authorize it for pertinent data, but a not-so-virtuous person could easily take advantage of your eagerness to try out their application and have you grant access to your entire profile.

One thing most people forget is that the permissions you grant for these applications persist, long after you’ve forgotten about the app.  So, for example, if you’ve authorized a seemingly-harmless application to publish posts to your News Feed, it could still perform that action months after you have stopped using it.

This may not seem like a big deal in and of itself, but what if the developer of this app decides they need a little extra cash and could easily spam your friends with advertisements?  Or, what if an unscrupulous company buys the application, only to exploit your profile and friends list?

The bad scenarios can go on and on – but there is some good news.  You have control over the applications that can access your data, you just need to periodically check up on them.

How to View and Disable Authorized Applications in Facebook

Facebook has made it very simple to revoke application permissions, but they don’t go out of your way to tell you how important it is to do this after you’ve stopped using an application.

To view your application settings in Facebook, click this link.

 

The resulting list will show every application that has access to information on your Facebook account, including external websites.  Inspect this list carefully, because any of authorized applications could potentially exploit your account.

In my case, I had a large group of applications that I used once (probably when writing an article) but never used again.  These apps still have access to your account, so it’s very important to revoke that access when you are done using them!

To remove access, simply click the X next to an application.  Click the Remove button to confirm this action.

Conclusion

The most effective way to protect your privacy on Facebook is to only provide it with  information you’re comfortable sharing with a stranger.  Even though you can keep most information hidden from unwanted eyes, there’s always a chance that Facebook will change their privacy policy (as we’ve seen happen several times already) or that an application will be hacked and your information will suddenly become public.

I enjoy using Facebook just as much as the next person, but we’re all starting to become keenly aware that we aren’t completely in control of our information on the social network.  I guess that’s what we get when we entrust our information to a free service though, right?

Image credit: University of Scranton Library