One of the things that has revealed the Cambridge Analytica scandal is how we give up our personal data without noticing in social networks. It only took a seemingly innocent personality test for hundreds of thousands of people accept to surrender their personal data without knowing it, which allowed the company to harvest information from 50 million US citizens.
For that reason, today we are going to explain how to know which third party apps have access to your personal Facebook information, and how to prevent them from having it to keep them from tracking everything you do in the social network. And, among the data you can give to third parties is not only your list of friends or personal information, but your photographs or clicks on “Like” that can help companies know what your ideals are.
A few years ago, Facebook even allowed these applications to access the personal data of your friends, but after modifying the API in 2015 they now have to settle for a simple list of these friends. However, they can still access a large amount of data, although fortunately a quick and simple process has been created to limit this.
Sometimes, when you connect to an application with your Facebook account from your computer’s browser, you may be able to choose the information you share as it happens when you install apps on Android. However, this process is quite automated on mobile phones, so you may be giving away much more data than you think. These are the data that you may be giving
- Public profile: It is usually the only mandatory personal data to be able to use the applications, so you can not deactivate it. This is your public profile, with your name configured, your profile picture and other information such as your age.
- Friends list: It’s your complete friends list. When you have activated the option to share it, the companies behind the applications you are using may know the names of your Facebook friends. This list is often used by applications to search your Facebook friends on them.
- Birthplace and current city: With these two options activated, the application can know in which locality you grew up and which city you live in now. This data will be obtained from your profile, so it will depend on the information you have filled in on Facebook.
- Photos: Some applications will also require permission to obtain your photos. This is necessary, for example, to be able to use the photos you have on Facebook in an app. You will get both the photos that you have uploaded and the ones where you have been tagged.
- Clicks on “Like”: Maybe one of the most valuable data you can give to a company. Knowing what Facebook posts or other websites have given me like, a company can know your political inclinations or what you think of certain issues. This is the information that supposedly Cambridge Analytica used to make false news with which to manipulate the mentality of certain people.
- Personal description, date of birth or email: These are three different options that may be active, and with which you will assign to the company data that you have set up on Facebook as your birth date or email. Also the personal description, something that can help companies know how you see yourself or what things you like.
How to know which third-party apps have access to your information
Facebook has a menu that lists all the applications in which you signed in with your account, and that therefore access your personal data. To access it, open the drop-down menu in the social network, and inside choose the option Configuration to enter the panel where you can adjust all your options.
Once in the Facebook configuration, in the left column choose the Applications option (1). Once you do, you will be shown a list of all the applications in which you have used your Facebook account to identify yourself, and to which you have given permission to access your personal data.
From here you can go eliminating the apps that you no longer use. However, if you are curious to know what type of data each one accesses, mouse over one of them so that two option icons appear on the right, and click on the option Edit configuration (2) that you will see with the icon of a pencil. A screen will open in which you can manage the data obtained by each application.
How to limit access to your personal data
When you enter the configuration of one of the applications with the previous step, you will be opened a window like the one you see. In it you can check what data accesses each application, depending on each of them can be more or less.
If you look, apps like TripAdvisor automatically get permission to harvest a large amount of data, but only your public profile is required to work. That means that everything else you see on the list you’re giving away unnecessarily, from the information on the posts that you like to your photos or your list of friends.
Precisely to prevent the application from collecting unnecessary data but you can continue to use your Facebook account in it, in this box you can deselect all the data you want to stop sending. Once you have deselected all you want, click on Save and the changes will be applied, from now on Facebook will cease to transfer the selected data.
Unfortunately, this process does not eliminate the data that the app has already collected about you, and Facebook does not give you a solution to eliminate them, since it has stopped depending on them. The only thing that tells you what you can do is to contact each developer individually and formally request that you delete your data.