As time goes by, I find there is an increasingly large number of things I can’t use, simply because I will not grant apps access to my Facebook data. Whether this is justified caution or the onset of paranoia doesn’t really matter; I hate it when apps ask for permission to access my friends list, access my birthdate, and worse of all, post on Facebook as me.
I do understand, of course, that some apps need certain information in order to provide the services they offer, but the permissions these apps ask for are many times exaggerated.
So while my friends keep playing Facebook games (and sending me invites) and generally enjoying the world of Facebook apps, I’ve been religiously ignoring it, and have added a very, very limited number of apps since I joined Facebook. If you feel the same way about these permissions, and were wishing for a way to control these permissions somewhat, even if just to feel like you’ve done something to protect your privacy, fPrivacy for Chrome could be your new best friend.
fPrivacy (formerly OOptOut), is a Chrome extension which you can download from the Chrome Web Store. It’s as easy to install as any other extension, but you should bear in mind that it is not entirely like every other extension you can download.
fPrivacy lets you opt out of certain Facebook app permissions, and choose what permissions you want or don’t want to give a certain app. It’s clearly stated on the extension’s page, and is also easy to figure out for yourself, that if you take away essential permissions from an app, it might not work.
Despite of what I’ve written in the introduction, sometimes even those weird-looking permissions, such as using your location, can be necessary for an app to work. So when installing and using fPrivacy, be warned that taking away too many permissions can cause the app to stop working, in which case you should try giving some permissions back.
fPrivacy is exceedingly easy to use, and if you use it intelligently, and opt out of permissions the app doesn’t really need in order to operate, it can be quite a life saver. I took fPrivacy for a test spin using the cool Timeline Cover app, CoverCanvas.
CoverCanvas is a very nice app, but it has one annoying feature: it posts on your wall every time you upload a new cover. As you can see above, these are the permissions the app asks for. I can see good reason for it to want to access my photos and videos, even my basic information. But there’s no real reason for an app like this to post things on my wall automatically.
I can decide to not use the app, as I’ve been doing, but with fPrivacy, I can revoke this specific permission, and still use the app for what it was intended for, which is creating unique cover photos for my Timeline profile. So now is the time to head over to the Chrome Web Store and install fPrivacy. Once it’s installed, try the app again.
After the extension is installed, you will find a new section has been added to the permissions window. As you can see, fPrivacy is not very glamorous-looking, but it gets the job done. Go over the various permissions, and remove the check marks from the ones you don’t want to grant the app.
I chose to remove only “publish_stream”, which lets the app post in my name, and “read_stream”, which let’s the app access posts in my news feed. If you’re not sure when a permission means, you can always check it against the list below, which is written in easy-to-understand English. That’s it. When you’re done, you can click on “Update”.
And there you have it. The permissions you chose to forego are not included in the list anymore, and you can grant the app only the permissions you want to grant it. In this case, I didn’t take away from the app anything that was necessary for it to work, so it continued to work like a charm. When I used it without fPrivacy, it posted on my wall when I uploaded a new canvas:
But when I used fPrivacy and revoked that permission, it just didn’t. This way, I could both control what I want or don’t want to post, and try many different covers without spamming my friends. Mission accomplished!
fPrivacy is still a work in progress. The extension is fairly new, and the interface still leaves something to be desired. But even if it stays exactly as it is, it’s doing what it set out to do – help us control our privacy. While the best option might still be to not use Facebook apps at all, there’s no real reason to miss out on all the fun.
For more Facebook privacy tips, check out:
- How To Control Your Privacy With The Facebook Timeline
- The Top 5 Privacy Tips For Facebook Timeline Applications
Do you have a problem with Facebook-app permissions, or do you authorize many of them without giving it a second thought? Do you know of more tools that help protect our online privacy? Tell use in the comments!
Image Credit: Lock Image via Shutterstock