Facebook Apps Privacy Settings History

Since facebook started gaining all of its massive popularity in the last few years, its privacy settings have changed to “reflect society’s trends toward becoming more open,” according to AllFacebook, the unofficial facebook resource. When third-party applications started being utilized on facebook, apps such as “When will I get married?” and Pandora, these apps asked permission to access your account. This permission, if granted, gave the application access to ANY of the information on your facebook, or information on other people’s facebook pages about you. Facebook previously stated that it does, in no way, screen or approve Platform Developers, and does not control what information these apps get or how they use it. Basically, facebook took no responsibility for the apps that it allows to be hosted on its’ website. However, facebook has been sued numerous times for violating privacy laws, and has since changed the privacy settings for apps. They have not changed it in a big way, mostly just the language of how the settings are phrased, because the apps still access your information. The privacy policy concerning third-party applications now says that “In order to provide you with useful social experiences off of Facebook, we occasionally need to provide General Information about you to pre-approved third party websites and applications that use Platform at the time you visit them (if you are still logged in to Facebook). Similarly, when one of your friends visits a pre-approved website or application, it will receive General Information about you so you and your friend can be connected on that website as well (if you also have an account with that website). In these cases we require these websites and applications to go through an approval process, and to enter into separate agreements designed to protect your privacy…You can disable instant personalization on all pre-approved websites and applications using your Applications and Websites privacy setting. You can also block a particular pre-approved website or application by clicking “No Thanks” in the blue bar when you visit that application or website. In addition, if you log out of Facebook before visiting a pre-approved application or website, it will not be able to access your information.” Oh great. Facebook was supposed to update the privacy policy to protect user’s information, but it seems that all they’ve done is change the wording of the policy, because it still collects my information, as well as my friends’ information.

Facebook explains away why it is important to have access to your information and you friends list, to “make your experience more social.” But the truth is, these apps, that you have no idea who created them or for what reason, have you and your friends information. Apps request your permission before you can use them, and sometimes allow you to choose what information you share with them, but the majority of these apps do not let you choose, or require that you provide all of your info.

Facebook does now give the option to turn off all applications, but if you’re addicted to Farmville, this may be a problem. Users like facebook because they can experience a variety of apps for free, and app developers like using this idea to their advantage. And why should they not use this information? If people are putting it out there, we might as well find good uses for it. I am sure that not all the apps on facebook are using our information for good, but Really Gets Me is here to save the day and find ways for clients to really get the most out of being creepy. We have to embrace the fact that facebook and its posse access our information, because really, what is private anymore these days? Also, below is a history of how facebook’s privacy settings have changed since 2005.


Facebook Privacy History Infographic


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