Facebook Applications – How Trusting Are You Of Them?

I’m probably not the only one who gets invitations to sign up for Facebook applications. There are tons of them, and I know I’ve opted out of almost all of them that have come my way. There were a couple I signed up for before things really exploded, since I’ve been on the site for awhile, but since that time I’ve been reluctant to add many of them.


by Beth Kanter

The reason for my worry? I don’t like when an application is ready to load and it gives you all those disclaimers. The first one is always that it’s an independent application and has nothing to do with Facebook. I’m not sure I like that, but I guess it’s the same thing Apple tells people who have the iPhone about their applications. Sure, they’ll allow it to be used but if anything goes wrong they absolve themselves of any blame. I don’t quite like that, but we’ll move on.

The second thing is that the programs all say they’re going to access every single thing you have on your Facebook page. That’s bothersome to me, moreso than anything else, because they also let you know that they might share that information with someone else. In other words, you sign onto any stupid little game application and you’re basically saying to the world “spam me”.

Not that I really expect all that much privacy from Facebook anymore. Sure, they’ve added filters that allow us to protect some information, but they added those filters after they had already made changes then put your information out to the world, when the backlash came. Not that any of that targeted marketing is working anyway; my page says I’m married and I’m still getting ads for dating services. I also get ads for weight loss, other types of computer games, and strangely enough some kind of special new vitamin water; yuck!

All of this comes up in my mind as I’ve been debating whether or not to allow the upload of one application in particular, that being the Family Tree application. Telling more than I need to, I had pretty much gotten my mind into the reality that I probably was never going to see or hear from most of my family members again after some significant members have passed away, and was surprised when a couple of cousins connected with me on Facebook.

Suddenly family members I knew and didn’t really know were coming out of the woodworks, and then this Family Tree thing came up. Part of me thinks it would be really interesting to load it and see just how I’m related to a few of these people. Another part of me sees it as just another application that’ll get my information and sell it off.

What to do, what to do? Well, I still have lots of time to ponder this one out. How do you handle all these Facebook applications, if you’re on the service? How much do you trust them to do the right thing with your information?

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29 comments on “Facebook Applications – How Trusting Are You Of Them?

  • I absolutely do not allow any Facebook apps to have access to my profile and my personal information. Why trust a third party at all? There’s really no apps I really need in any case too. I’m even beginning to consider deleting my facebook account – it’s time to socialize face to face, and stop this virtual BS imo.

    • Mitch Mitchell says:

      Henway, it’s easy to socialize when people live where you are. But to branch out, that’s what these things are for. Truthfully, I wondered if I would ever talk to any of my family members again other than my mother and many of them have ended up on Facebook, so that’s pretty cool.

  • Jessica Sieghart says:

    If it’s something that interests me, I do it. These ads and annoyances find you with just an email address. if you’re interested in geneaology (I am-find it fascinating), that Facebook app is kind of worthless. Try poking around ancestry.com a bit. You can see actual census and military records and sometimes other documents like marriage and death certificates. There is a free trial and I poked around and found my grandfather’s military card and through census records was able to go back quite a ways on my dad’s side.

    • Mitch Mitchell says:

      Actually Jessica, I’m really not interested in genealogy. I don’t want to go that far back; trust me on that one. But the cousins that I know, that would be neat, and then seeing some cousins I don’t know would be neat as well. Anything further… nope, don’t want to know.

      • Jessica Sieghart says:

        Ok, then definitely that Facebook app might be of some interest to you. It’s more lateral and starting with the cousins you know, you’d be able to see who they have listed as relatives who are Facebook members. That sounds more like what you’re looking for.

      • Mitch Mitchell says:

        Actually, I wasn’t sure I was looking for that Jess. lol I was wondering if I trusted the app enough to let it do its thing. i decided to at least go ahead with it and see where it takes me.

      • Jessica Sieghart says:

        LOL! That’s not the first time I’ve gone off target today. One of those days, i guess. Good. I’m glad you’re trying it. It’s a chance worth taking.

  • Many applications were against Facebook terms and conditions and I believe this is the main reason why Facebook have completely changed API for PHP last year. This was a good way to reduce the number of apps that actually were accessing all your friends or ask to join and invite another 5 friends. Probably with different API which actually still don’t have complete manual number of “bad” applications were reduced. I am not sure you are aware of this fact, a couple of months ago there were 500k apps and actually only 5 of those have more than 100k users.

    • Mitch Mitchell says:

      No I didn’t know any of that, Carl. I have to admit that I pay more attention to the concept of privacy than I really had with apps until thinking about it lately.

      • Probably you remember last year that Facebook complete changed privacy terms too. This was a big change and again the reason was applications that access data, share with friends and 3rd parties.

      • Mitch Mitchell says:

        I do remember that somewhat, Carl, but I have to admit I kind of glossed over it. They’re always changing privacy terms.

  • Hey Mitch, I am not really a facebook fan nor do I spend a lot of time on it but whenever I heard of privacy issues with facebook I thought of people seeing your email on your profile or something I never thought of this apps.

    I can only imagine what a programmer with a great application idea can do with all those emails he might gather…

    Thanks for the heads up, I don’t think I have any applications on my account but I will make sure I wont allow any (especially those that come from internet marketers 🙂

    • Mitch Mitchell says:

      It’s something kind of scary and interesting to consider, Alex. I know I signed up for most of the few applications I do use before all this stuff about privacy came about, so the only one I’ve worried even a little about is this latest one.

  • Patrick Simspon says:

    I can relate to your situation, I myself am very weary of using Facebook aps, although I do use facebook to spread the word of my blogs.Its just a matter of what each person wants to do with facebook, I think. Your privacy is always at risk these days.
    Thanks
    Patrick Simpson
    http://www.getziggys.com/

    • Mitch Mitchell says:

      It’s a strange thing, isn’t it Patrick? Yeah, I know we don’t have to participate on Facebook at all, but I’m not always sure that means whoever has all these things deserve the right to every bit of information we have for most of those things.

  • Mitch Mitchell says:

    Like which kinds of things, Dennis? I don’t think I’ve ever even thought about most things as scripts from hosting companies.

  • Allan Douglas says:

    No… definately not. Everytime a wind pops up and says an application has asked permission to access all of my information and do anything it pleases with it, I get my flyswatter and smack it down. It’s not that I have any “sensitive” information, it’s just that I don’t want to open myself – and possibly all of my “friends” to new and bizzare forms of advertising.

    As Jess says, they will probably find me anyway – eventually – but anything I can do to slow that down is a good thing.

    OK, I lied. Or forgot. I did install a networking tool that posts any new blog post to twitter and facebook for me. I asked for and recieved permission to access those accounts. But at least I knew what it was and why it needed access. When I get a message like, “Sherry Sunshine sent you a golden ring, will you accept it?” I just ignore it. I know its going to pop up that Mother May I screen.

    I suppose I should be more sociable on these social networks, I just don’t want to pick up any social diseases! 🙂

    • Mitch Mitchell says:

      Allan, I know what you mean. I could be easily more sociable on Facebook, but truthfully it doesn’t seem to lend itself to that type of thing unless you’re in one of those groups where people yell at each other all the time. Nope, rather not go through that.

  • I am not really into accepting or allowing this kind of apps at Facebook. I event set my wall into a restricted one. I don’t allow wall messages at all.

    • Mitch Mitchell says:

      You’re the second person I know doing that, Ron, blocking your wall like that. I don’t want to go that route; at least not yet.

  • Good for me I don’t use Facebook apps. I only just signed up for facebook and add some long time friend, relatives, and add few new friends and chat with them. It’s the only thing I know with FB. Games and other apps. I don’t much about it. Thanks for this informative article of yours.

    • Mitch Mitchell says:

      No problem, Rose. Course, I’ll just warn you that some of the apps can be tempting. lol

  • Mitch,

    I have been blocking most apps that ask my permission to suck my information, my friends, my life, etc into their wormhole (space anomaly) to do with as they please. Many are quite blatant in that they say they will “suck every scrap of information from your account, please agree by pressing this button…”

    I usually decline and hit the block button to stop further invitations. Michael

    • Mitch Mitchell says:

      Michael, I started blocking apps probably more than 2 years ago, and these days I rarely get a request anymore, even though more games keep coming out. I’m not sure why the family app has stuck with me so much in my mind; maybe I’m just feeling a weird type of nostalgia, eh?

  • Tim Hmelar says:

    Hey Mitch-

    I just found this article and all the responses you have. Do you have any updated info on FB or Twitter and Should I share my info in order to use a third party app.

    Tim in Palo Alto

    • Mitch Mitchell says:

      Tim, I’ve thought about this one a lot. I haven’t added a new FB app in about 2 years, so that tells you where my mind has been. Regarding Twitter, I’ve been slightly more open but not overly. Twitter apps don’t ask for much access to your personal information except maybe your username, and I don’t mind giving that out since I also have it posted on the blog in case someone wants to connect with me there. Only one of them asks me to enter a password, and I don’t have a problem with that one app either. My thing is to just be cautious with those you might decide to add and of course monitor things to see if anything looks different to see if you want to stay with them.

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