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
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…
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!
- How to lock down your Facebook privacy settings (Wired, Nov 2017)
- What is QuizBait? (ScienceBase / David Bradley, Nov 2017) – inspired by my Facebook post cos we’re pals on Fb 🙂
- Here are all the apps I’ve blocked so far.