Why are your Facebook friends giving away your personal information?

No matter how much we complain about it, most of us will not delete our Facebook account. We already know how much information it has on us and how much more we’ll offer, but how else will we ever connect with those old friends we didn’t see before Facebook came along? We love seeing updates on their kids and their jobs. We love knowing when they might come to town. We also couldn’t live without an easy way to contact virtually everyone we’ve ever known.

Still, we hate that all comes at the price of handing over a lot of information we’d just as soon not give to third-party companies that also give us things like games for free.

You cannot completely escape the privacy concerns but you can limit how much information you allow companies and apps to get from you.

Everyone has those friends who play every game and take every quiz and who’s always checking to see “which Disney Princess are you” and “What would you look like if you were of the opposite sex”. Without reading the fine print no one would suspect that those games and apps are getting and sharing information, not just from the person playing but from all of their friends.

Many popular games like Farm Heroes require that anyone playing the game give up personal information from their Facebook profile such as name, birthday, and email address. Those games also ask that users share information from the profiles of all of their friends. Unless the player carefully reads the privacy information when they first install it (and no one ever does), by default they’re giving access to their friends’ profiles.

While you can’t control what games your friends are playing, you can control how much information their apps will get from you. Go to your Facebook settings and on the left side of the screen look for ‘Apps’. Click there and near the bottom of the next page look for “Apps Others Use”. By clicking here you’ll see the information you allow their apps to get from your profile. The box lists everything from your profile and any box with a checkmark is being given to those apps your friends use. Uncheck them all. This is something all Facebook users should do. There’s no good reason for some random app I’ve never used or even heard of should have access to my email, address, birthday, likes, posts etc.

While you’re at it, look at the top of the Apps page to see all of the apps you’re using or have used in the past. These are the apps you’ve downloaded on your phone and signed up for an account using your Facebook login. You’ll probably see some apps that you don’t remember downloading. You can edit the list by deleting the apps you don’t use and for the apps you do use, you can go through each one of them and edit the information it’s getting from your Facebook account. Most apps require some basic information but others will ask to have access to all of your posts, your friends, your photos and many of the other things you share publicly on your Facebook profile.

Most serious Facebook users won’t go as far as deleting their accounts but these changes will help keep some of your private information from falling into the wrong hands.