Last weekend I was looking through my Facebook news stream and noticed that my son-in-law had remarked that I was certainly up too late and should get to bed. NOw, he knows I don’t stay up late, so I wondered what he meant since I hadn’t been up late. I kept going through my news stream and to my shock, I was seeing postings supposedly from me, attached to comment threads from my friends. These postings were from the ‘Take Your Email’ App from Facebook! They were attached, at random, on my various friends’ pages. The message was something like, ‘click here to get your Facebook email name before it’s too late’, or something like that. I found these spammy messages in conversation threads where it made no sense at all. One friend was commenting about a picture, someone else had responded, and then, there was ‘my’ post about the stupid FB email!
Of course, I was embarrassed to see these inappropriate posts, so I started going through and deleting all I could find. I know I didn’t find them all, but I was thankful that the app had posted these random comments between 1-4 AM, so hopefully, not too many people saw them. I did get 2-3 emails from friends asking me about the app and if they should get it, etc. I explained that they should ignore it and apologized for it happening.
Then, I went into investigative mode. I had an idea what had happened and my suspicions proved correct. When I signed up to get my FB email when it became available, I implicitly gave this app my permission to do a number of things that I did not intend or want it to do, such as post to my wall at will and without my knowing what would be said. Below you’ll see an example of how ping.fm can do the same thing (now removed).
I didn’t realize at first that the ‘Get Your FB Email’ was an app until I went to my ‘Account’ drop down and then selected ‘Privacy Settings’. Then I saw the ‘Apps and Websites’ icon down at the lower left (see illustration below).
I opened it up and took a look at all the apps and websites I was using (more than I thought). Then I started opening up each one and taking a look at all the data it could access/use. For each app, there;s a list of required data it has to access in order to function, but there are many things that is your choice to remove. So I started clicking on ‘remove’ to just about everything I could in my apps.
- To go through my apps periodically and see what’s there and what kinds of things I’m allowing to happen and remove permissions as necessary.
- It’s even better to take a few minutes and immediately go to privacy settings after adding an app to remove unwanted features.
- Realize that when I use Facebook to sign into other services, SlideShare & DropBox to name two, that I have just added that app to Facebook and I need to go and either remove it or adjust the settings.
- Write a blog post about my experience!
So there you have it. Although I’m pretty up to date on privacy settings and try to keep informed as to new things or changes happening with Facebook, I completely missed checking on my Facebook apps. I’ve never noticed any of my other apps posting on my wall or friends walls – until this particular one. Now I will be ready! I wanted to write this in hopes it would be of service to others.