How to switch off Facebook platform apps (stopping Fb sharing more data through others’ use of apps)

It’s entirely possible that this is unnecessary. Apparently Facebook blocked apps that your friends were using from accessing your data back in 2014 (I only discovered this last week) so doing this now may be pointless, but I did this a few years ago, as well as blocking apps individually, and here’s how you do it.

  1. Log in to Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ on desktop / browser (don’t think you can do this on the phone app…?)
  2. Go to your App Settings page: https://www.facebook.com/settings?tab=applications (or use the on-screen menu to get there, using that little white arrow to the right of the question mark, then click on Settings, then Apps in the menu that will appear on the left).
    Screenshot 2018-03-25 11.57.50.png
  3. Click on each of the Edit buttons to change your settings to your preferences. As you can see from mine my preference is to switch things OFF.I have ‘Apps, Websites and Plug-ins’ disabled…
    Screenshot 2018-03-25 12.28.50
    I have ‘Apps, Websites and Plug-ins’ disabled – that’s the Platform Apps one, and when I click on ‘Edit’ here’s what my settings look like.
    Screenshot 2018-03-25 12.41.23For ‘Apps others use’ I would have previously unticked any option that might have been ticked, though to be honest this is probably superseded by having switched off the platform apps option anyway. But I am a bit ‘belts and braces’ when it comes to Facebook.
    Screenshot 2018-03-25 12.36.45.png
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Who are you sharing your Facebook posts with?

Musical accompaniment is ‘She’ (live) by Alice Phoebe Lou – this is used as the end credit song for Bombshell: the Hedy Lamarr story, about the inventor and film star, and has been Oscar-shortlisted for Best Original Song.

For all its faults Facebook is pretty good at helping you to decide who can see the posts you put on your timeline and it lets you adjust your privacy settings easily.

Below are screenshots of the most common options –

On the left, the globe = public – anything you post to your timeline with this option means it’s available to everyone (whether or not they’re logged in to Facebook, it’s very public). The middle one that looks like two heads = friends and this will be visible to any of your friends. The gear icon on the right indicates the post has been shared with a restricted group of your friends, or some other custom setting.

Note that if you tag a friend (by writing @ theirname [without the space] in the post) then your friend’s friends will ALSO be able to see your post (the icon looks the same as the friends one though).

To access and amend these options when writing your new post click on the grey option in the screenshot below. Mine says ‘Friends’ as that’s my default setting, yours might be different. When you click on it it will go blue and all the options will appear.

Screenshot 2018-03-17 12.56.47.png

There are lots of options to pick from – if you want to throw a surprise party for someone pick the ‘Friends except…’ to hide it from them, or you can choose the Custom option and select which friends will be able to see the post. You can also create preset groups here too (I think I created a ‘Gig’ one, looks like it, bit surprised if I created a theatre one though [though I do recommend Travesties at the RTC if you’re in New York]).

You can check any previous post you’ve published to see what its options were.

Screenshot 2018-03-17 13.05.53

I think that once you change your posting settings for a single post then Facebook may tend to default to that option for your next post – so you may need to keep an active eye on things.

I’m afraid I have no idea what happens if you comment on someone else’s post – it may depend on the privacy settings they’ve set for their post (you can see the relevant icon at the top of their post, next to the timestamp). If you’re commenting on a page then I think your comment’s ‘reach’ or visibility will be the same as the default setting for the page. If anyone knows…

Further reading
Block quiz / test apps from accessing your Facebook information

• Block quiz / test apps from accessing your Facebook information

AKA How to Switch of Facebook’s Platform Apps / Applications (see Supplemental).

Here’s what I posted on Facebook recently –

Your friends are the weakest link, mine too

Every time I spot that you’ve taken some test on Facebook and shared your results here I block the app that you used. This is because, when you authorise the app to interact with your page, it is then able to interact with mine* (and can, I assume from the wording below, access non-public information). Which I’d rather it didn’t. Obviously I will miss some because Fb won’t show me everything.

How to block apps etc https://www.facebook.com/settings?tab=blocking

*because you can see my page and the app can access what you can access

Screenshot 2017-11-16 00.56.06.png

If you scroll down that page there are several options for blocking or restricting various things. At the time of writing (Nov 2017) the list is

  • Restricted list
  • Block users
  • Block messages
  • Block app invites
  • Block event invitations
  • Block apps
  • Block pages

The last two are particularly useful for dodgy looking quizzes and tests. As far as I can tell when your friends take a test they authorise the app to access their page. Their page can access all your info, so my supposition is that the app can access all your info too. This is borne out in the format of the help text Facebook uses to clarify what happens when you block an app (in the picture above) – “Once you block an aapp, it can no longer contact you or get non-public information about you through Facebook.” Hmm, the ‘non-public information’ bit made me wonder, so I have blocked – over the years – over 260 of these apps I think, here is my full list.

It’s very simple to block, just start typing the name of the offending app and autofill options will appear (if not you’d need to visit the app’s page and see if you can work out who is behind it). If an app doesn’t show up in the Block Apps dialogue box try it in the Block Pages option lower down.

Of course once someone’s authorised an app it’s already (presumably) been able to harvest some of your info so you can request that individual app owners remove that data by contacting the developer directly. I have not done this, I probably should.. but…

Supplemental
I’ve realised that I’ve already switched off the Platform app setting on Facebook’s App Settings page. In the ‘Apps, Websites and Plug-ins’ panel on the left in the pic below mine says Disabled. For the ‘Apps others use’ panel on the right I’d previously unticked all the options so in fact this the subject of this post has probably never actually been a problem for me!

Screenshot 2017-12-20 16.17.09

Screenshot 2017-12-20 16.11.58

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Further reading

 

You can only delete Twitter DMs (Direct Messages) from your own mailbox

The screenshot in the tweet below comes from Twitter’s support pages on Direct Messages, in particular the section on ‘Things to know about Direct Messages‘. The text says “When you delete a Direct Message or conversation (sent or received), it is deleted from your account only. Others in the conversation will still be able to see Direct Messages or conversations that you have deleted. When you delete a group conversation, you will leave that group and will no longer be able to participate.

I spotted this yesterday and a friend helped me check to see if it was the case. It is. It seems to be a new thing but I don’t know when it was implemented, or why. I’m fairly certain that it used to be the case that if you deleted a direct message then it was deleted everywhere, but that is no longer what happens.

In the screenshot within the second embedded tweet (above) my friend has deleted the direct message saying “Let me know when you’ve seen this DM… and I’ll delete it“. After refreshing my page (and also checking on my phone) his DM was still there for me. I also deleted one of his and we tried all the permutations we could think of.

So… if you send a DM and delete it the other person will still have a copy.

Note that if the other party has email notifications switched on it’s possible that the email will contain a copy of the text of the DM*, or just inform them that a DM has been sent (possibly both – I switched off email notifications as soon as I could so no longer know what’s in them).

*the same email notification thing would happen with an at-mention too.

Supplemental
What happens to the DMs of someone blocks you? They’ll still be there.

I’m blocked by several #homeopathy fans though I’ve exchanged a few DM messages with one, who later blocked me again). Those messages are still there – I’ve no idea if the other party deleted them too (I didn’t delete mine, just forgot about them but went and checked). Until this moment I’d assumed that blocking someone wiped the DMs. I’m not sure if it did and Twitter’s restored them to my mailbox (literally not looked at them in two years) or if they were always there.

This also means that all of my Quora answers on the topic have turned out to be wrong 😉

I have been trying to find out when this change (I’m convinced it’s a change and that it hasn’t always been this way) and the earliest tweet(s) I can find about it are below.

This suggests the change happened between 2014 and 2015 – anyone know more?

Got it! July 2014! See point 5 in the list change from 7th to 19th July. There isn’t an archived snapshot of the page between 7-19th July but Lou and Sharon’s tweeted exchange above suggests deleting still affected both parties on 9 July 2014.

7 July 2014 – archived copy of Twitter’s support article from that date, screenshot below

Screenshot 2017-10-06 23.46.53

19 July 2014 – archived copy of Twitter’s support article from that date, screenshot below

Screenshot 2017-10-06 23.49.29.png

This refers to using Twitter on the web, the info also tells you how to delete DMs using a phone but doesn’t specify if they’re deleted for the other person too.

How did that person find me on Twitter?

Sometimes you might find that you’ve been followed or tweeted to by someone that you weren’t expecting to find you on Twitter. This can happen for several reasons:

  • they already follow other mutual friends and Twitter’s algorithms have suggested you as a possibility
  • they searched for your name or someone told them (this includes your tweet being retweeted into their timeline)
  • the email address you’ve used for Twitter is in their email contacts list and they’ve let Twitter trawl that list to find people’s matched Twitter handles – you can switch this off by making yourself less discoverable (make sure “Let others find me by my email address” is unticked)
  • you’ve added your mobile phone number to Twitter during registration (make sure “Let others find me by my phone number” is unticked too (also you can remove your phone)
  • you’ve added your Twitter info to your website

If you’ve changed your Twitter name / handle in the hope of being less findable then remember that this probably won’t work. Threaded conversations (if you click on a tweet you’ll see all its replies) will likely indicate your current name because any reply you sent previously will now be attributed to your new Twitter name.

“Although an account can change its @handle, it can never change its Twitter ID” – http://tweeterid.com/