Have you ever signed up for a new app through your Facebook account? If you're like me - or 50 million other Facebook users - you probably have. Using your Facebook account to log into an app has become extremely commonplace over the years because it's so simple. You just have to tap one button and viola! you're signed up for a fun, new app, quiz, or game through Facebook. According to report by The New York Times and The Guardian, this process has given those apps access to personal information, such as your birthday, relationship status, religious and political beliefs, and even the different types of media you enjoy.
If you don't think having your Facebook account linked to these third party apps is a big deal, it's actually pretty scary. In the bombshell reports from The Guardian and The Times, it was revealed that a UK-based academic named Aleksandre Kogan and his company Global Science Research "collected details of Americans who were paid to take a personality test, but also gathered data on those people's Facebook friends" and shared that information illegally with another company Cambridge Analytica. They then went on to use this stolen information to "build a powerful software program to predict and influence choices at the ballot box."
This is definitely a big deal, as well as a violation of privacy in the digital age. It's important to remember what third party apps have access to your personal information. You can also remove these third party apps from your Facebook account for good. According to How To Geek, the first thing you need to do is get to a desktop computer or a laptop. You won't be able to do this easily on your phone. Log in to your Facebook account and then click the little down-facing arrow on the right side of the top bar. Once you've located and clicked on that arrow, click “Settings.”
This will take you to a new page. On the left hand side of the page there is a column with a number of different choices. Towards the bottom, there will be an option to select "apps." Once you've selected "apps," you will see all the apps that can currently access your account. Make sure you hit "show all" in order to see all of the apps that are connected to your account.
If you move your mouse over any of the apps, a pencil icon and an X will appear in grey. If you click the “X,” it will remove the app and stop it from accessing your personal information. You will have to click "remove" again in order to finalize the process.
How To Geek recommends going to the third party app and deleting your account from their own website, as well. "Just because you remove an app or website’s access to your Facebook data doesn’t mean it’s out of your life. Most of these services copy relevant data like your name, birthday, interests, and email address to their own services," the site reads. This may seem like a hassle, however, it's always better to be safe than sorry.