Dissecting Facebook’s New Privacy Controls

In their latest privacy policy update, Facebook states that they will give the option to turn off ALL the applications, games and websites’ access to your personal information. I decided to check it out.

The first two sections seem straightforward enough: “My Account” leads you to the “Privacy Settings,” which lead you to “Choose your Privacy Settings.” I’m now going straight to “Applications, Games and Websites” – because this is where facebook has been most insidious about their lack-of-privacy-creep.

(For those who want to delete all their apps, you can tick “turn off all platform” applications if you want…but I prefer to just lose the excess baggage of apps I no longer want having even a backdoor route into my account information).

Here are a list of 28 applications that have access to my personal information. Some are news sites; I let The New York Times , The Washington Post, and The Huffington Post stay because they’re useful in sharing data via iTouch app. Some are a little bizarre, and I chalk them up to the early days of my facebook membership. They get little “ticks”, so I can remove them from the list.

This gives me momentary pause, except that harkening back to my last blog post on the subject, I realize that these apps are no longer part of what I want from Facebook. So out they go. “What Sexy Cartoon female are you?” (Jessica Rabbit) goes out the window, as does Starbucks’ “You Deserve One” app. I’m horrified to see that I allowed foursquare to access my information, since I intentionally don’t post location information on my facebook account; I had forgotten this one even existed. “Death’s Time”, “Caprica Open Mic” and “Which GLEE character are you?”  (I don’t remember) also get the tick. I hesitate at LoKast, a short-range disposable social network that debuted at SXSW last year, mostly because I thought the idea was really interesting and I was hoping to find other LoKast-ers in the city. That never happened, and the site doesn’t seem to be taking off among my social group, so toodle-oo, LoKast.

I realize, now that I’ve read to the bottom of the pop-up box, that there’s a Select All tick box, so I could have ticked them all at once.

With that, I click “remove selected,” and see that I’ve removed 23 of the 28 applications that had access to my information, and most of them I hadn’t even remembered granting access to in the first place. Suddenly, I feel a heck of a lot better.

I’ll try to do another section of this in a while, but we’ll see how it goes. No promises.

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