Facebook is currently facing a scandal over the use of its data by British political research company Cambridge Analytica.
It didn't get the data through a hack, but reportedly through a Facebook app which gave a researcher user data — and also the data of their friends.
Most people forget that when they download an app or sign into a website with Facebook, they are giving those companies a look into their Facebook profile. Your profile can often include your email address and phone number as well as your work history and current location. And most people didn't realize that until recently, if you were sharing that data with friends, then apps used by those friends could also see that data as well!
Advertisers, Facebook-app developers, and Facebook ad-tech partners can't see your name, your phone number, or your employer — Facebook encrypts and anonymizes all the data to protect your privacy. But it does give that data in bulk to companies who want to target and track both you and people like you.
1. To start off, go to the arrow symbol on the far right of your Facebook page.
2. We're going to be taking a deep dive into the settings.
3. Once you're in the settings, go to Apps.
4. This is the shocking bit, the list of company apps that are tracking you on Facebook. Apparently I have allowed 54 apps access to my Facebook account. Be sure to click on the "show all" button to get the full list.
5. Voila! The list of apps tracking me is so long I have to make this zoomed-out view to see them all.
6. You have options. You can edit the app's permissions or delete it completely so it can no longer access your Facebook account.
7. TripAdvisor knows my email, my age and the names of all my friends! I love TripAdvisor. But this feels like a reach.
Review each app to edit its permissions or delete its access to you on Facebook entirely. It's a bit time-consuming — but otherwise you're just giving these people free data.
8. Now scroll down a bit further in the settings > apps section. You have more options. You can use Facebook to log in and play games anonymously. Following the Cambridge Analytica scandal, Facebook disabled other apps from harvesting data through the "Apps others use" facility.
9. The now-defunct "Apps Others Use" section used to look like this. You can see all the data you let your friends see, and that data was used by apps your friends used — such as the Cambridge Analytica "personality quiz" app that gathered all that data you didn't know about!
10. So now, this is the most important section in terms of your privacy. Edit the privileges of these apps so you know what data you are giving to whom.