The current hot topic of discussion is Facebook security. Even the national news is rolling with stories.
From talks of Russian bots manipulating US election coverage to the recent outage of Cambridge Analytica, Facebook security and personal privacy is at the forefront of thought and conversation. It seems like these discussions I keep hearing in passing would be a great teaching moment, right? But often, no, because usually it’s the most obvious ways that our personal information is being given up and frankly, people just don’t want to hear about it.
How are we “giving up” our information in the first place? There are many ways that Facebook can collect information about us. However, it’s with our permission that we can be tracked and this data stored, used, and sold. Often users grant this permission without even realizing it. There is more information at the end on how to keep these permissions under control!
It’s not just about Facebook security anymore either, this goes beyond the system. Permissions are granted through silly games and little quizzes. You take a Muppets quiz and you post the results so that you and your friends can have a good laugh. The app creator hopes that your friends will take the same quiz too. Everyone knows I’m a total Janice, while my best friend is a Miss Piggy, and my husband is an Animal, every time. Well, that was fun, wasn’t it? When you took the Muppets Quiz you gave the quiz, or the “app,” permission to access your Facebook profile. That means you allowed it to access all of that personal information that you store on your account.
HEY NOW! I don’t keep PERSONAL information stored on my FACEBOOK profile!
Sure you do. You have personal information hidden all over. Are you friends with your mom on Facebook? Or maybe you’re the mom and you’re friends with your children. Is your maiden name listed? You know, so you can keep in touch with all your old friends from high school. I know a lot of women who do that, it makes sense! It just that your maiden name is your kids major banking security question. Oops. What about all those funny memes that you’re supposed to tag your friends and family in? Tag your cousin in the best vacations you took! This is great, now you and your cousin are reminiscing about spending summers at the cottage on Long Lake. I bet you forgot that’s the password recovery question for your email account.
Before we get all worked up, let’s remember that Facebook is far from the only company tracking and storing data about us. The grocery store, gas station, restaurants, they all do it. Often times we have granted them permission to track and analyze us. I see those little “permission tags” on lots of key chains, it’s how we get our coupon savings in the grocery stores, and we are happy to comply. Personally, I know I can’t make it through an Ulta without making sure I get (or spend) my points. I see the results of that data every time I get a highly targeted flyer in my mailbox. The one out by the road, or the one that’s in the next tab over.
It’s small bits of information, here and there, being aggregated about you, and that’s just the information you are handing out. Why does the Muppets Quiz need to know all of this? Why does a quiz need an entire marketing personality portrait of who you are, how you think, and even how you react to things?
Online quizzes? Summer vacations with your cousins? Ulta? What does this have to do with Facebook security? Let me tie this all up before I lose you.
Some places, like Ulta, have my permission to track, and they reward me for it. It’s pretty low-key tracking and they don’t get to personal. They watch how much money I spend, what brands I like, and they get a lot of marketing information which can be pretty priceless in a sense. The rewards points translate directly into cash off of purchases, and I take that as a win. The permissions that are granted with these Facebook quiz apps (or the games on our phones, or even Google itself) are a little more personal than Urban Decay eyeliner, and the information we are giving them access to is a lot more sensitive. Information like:
- Your birthday
- Any listed email address or addresses
- Your entire friends list, and any information they have public
- The events you attend
- The pages you like, and the pages you unliked
- And so much more
And like I mentioned above. Why does a Muppets quiz need an entire marketing profile about me? I guess you can come to your own conclusions, but I decided they didn’t need access to all that information, nor did they need access to my friends information. I didn’t feel like that was real Facebook secure.
Ok, so now that you told the corporate world more about yourself than you realized AND put your entire friends list on blast, it’s not entirely over.
Done with the shaming – on with the explaining. The first place we can start is by removing all of those unwanted apps from your Facebook account. It’s ok if you don’t know how. I have written out the step by step process, and to make it real easy I created an easy to follow graphic which you can download for FREE!
- Open up your Facebook Settings
- Click on Apps
- A screen will open with all of the apps attached to your account listed.
- Go through and delete apps you do not want attached to your account.
- If you’re keeping an app, click Edit Settings.
- Uncheck any settings you don’t want the app having access to. Save. Reopen the app to be sure the changes took.
- Repeat for the apps you wish to keep.
Thanks for reading and feel free to pass this information along to your friends so they don’t put you on blast like we were doing to them!
*I am going to note, that at the time of publishing this post, Panera Bread had a security breach for their program, similar to the Ulta program that I have discussed here. I will take this chance to note that, Facebook security aside, I never recommend storing credit card information on these types of accounts, and this is why.