Every week or two I end up on a Web site, within an app, or otherwise clicking on a button to authorize the program gaining access to my Facebook account. I’m realizing that over time, this is a major threat to the security of my data and therefore to my privacy. If an app I approved six months ago still has access to what I’m doing on Facebook, well, that can’t be good! How do I check to see what’s authorized, and axe applications and programs I no longer want touching my Facebook profile?
That’s a really great question because I’m in exactly the same boat you’re in. In fact, when I dug around I found that there were over two dozen applications that had free access to my personal – and often private – Facebook data. Totally not good, in fact, that’s double ungood, in the parlance of 1984.
But how do you figure out what you’ve authorized and unauthorize them?
Before we jump in, though, I will caution you to think carefully about each app before you give any the boot, because some of them might well be used by other apps or utilities that you do use regularly. Then again, worst case, they’ll just have to be reauthorized with OAuth (e.g. they don’t need or store your password).
It’s actually not too bad to figure out what apps are lurking. You need to start by going to the top right menu in Facebook:
Here’s where it gets a bit confusing. There are actually two areas that seem like they might be the right path to travel:
Let’s take a slight detour by clicking on the right link, to the Block List. After all, that’s what we want to check out, right? Well, not really, but it’s worth a quick peek:
If you’re like me, you block a lot of Facebook apps so that your newsfeed isn’t inundated with banal updates from Farmville, Mafia Wars, etc. This is where you can tweak those settings.
Useful, but not what we seek, so let’s back up one and click on the left option instead, “Applications and Websites” for a list of applications and web sites that have access to your Facebook data:
You can see that all sorts of third party applications and sites have access to my Facebook account, including Gowalla, Yelp, Eventbrite, and many more. This also shows the last time the application requested access to my information. The Huffington Post was most recent, which makes sense since I’d been writing an article for the site that same day. Still, there are more here than I want to allow, so I’m going to click on “Remove unwanted”…
Now you can see the full range of apps that I’ve enabled. Some of these I don’t even remember authorizing, actually, notably PC World and DROID. The former is obviously related to the magazine / web site, but the latter? No idea. So I’m going to cancel its access to my account.
To accomplish that, I’ll click on the “x” on the rightmost column:
Ayup, that’s why I clicked on the link in the first place. One more click, on the “Remove” button, and…
With that as a model, you can now see how to figure out what apps have access to your Facebook account and how to remove any that you don’t want. Remember too that if you’re overzealous in stopping these third party apps and sites having access to your Facebook data, the worst possible outcome is that you just have to reauthorize them next time you try to use Yelp, visit PC World, etc.