Facebook Privacy Checkup

Most people are far more aware of personal privacy – thanks to the recent Facebook Cambridge Analytica scandal. I have to admit – it had been a few months since I had last checked my Facebook privacy settings….

Being a security / privacy advocate I was somewhat surprised when I reviewed the apps in Facebook, and realised that to date I’d allowed more than 30 third-party apps access to at least some of my personal data… Eeek.


So how about your settings?

Some of the apps weren’t a surprise at all. Some were legitimate apps that I’d allowed access to, but that I no longer use based on things I was focussed on at the time. Other apps though, I’m not so sure about – and that’s the whole point. Most likely, assuming no foul play – without thinking I chose the “log in with Facebook” option for ease of use when signing up for a new service.

Not anymore. So out of curiosity – have you looked at your Facebook privacy settings yet? OK, let me explain how to check.


Check your Facebook App Settings

It’s not that difficult, although Facebook does a pretty poor job of letting you opt out of apps quickly, if you have a large number of them.

Technically you can do so on either mobile or desktop editions of Facebook. However I’m just going to cover how to do this on your mobile, seeing as this is the most popular way that most people view Facebook.

Follow these simple steps:

  1. Open a new Facebook session on your mobile device.
  2. You need to find the three small horizontal lines on the front page of your Facebook mobile app. On iOS, they should be in the lower right corner, whereas on Android you’ll see them on the top right.
  3. Click on the three lines, and a page will be displayed that has your name and profile at the top first line. Scroll down, and eventually you’ll find the section marked “Settings and Privacy”.
  4. The first option within that section is called “Account Settings.” That’s the option you want to touch / select.
  5. Scroll down the page and find where it says “Apps” Click on this one.
  6. A page called “Apps and websites” will be displayed.
  7. Select the first item that has the title of “Logged in with Facebook.” Click on the “Edit” within that option.


For each app listed here, you’ll have to click it (by selecting view), and then scroll down all the way to the bottom to find “Remove App”, and then after selecting this option, confirm again that you want to remove it by pressing “Remove”.

It’s a bit tiring…. and almost seems like it’s designed intentionally to make it hard to disallow apps more than one at a time.

It’s important that you understand that simply revoking the access won’t delete any of the information you’ve already provided to an application. However, it’s still reassuring to know that you won’t be providing any new information to them. Over time, the old data that was collected will become less and less valuable anyway. GDPR laws will take care of this one in the future… eventually.

You also might want to manage the amount of information that you’re providing to apps that you want to continue using. So consider all the apps that you have previously given permission – and remove where you can.


Facebook FakeBook – so you have friends who you can trust?

After 10 or more years on Facebook, like me you may have a number of “friends” along the way you no longer recognise or actually know in the first place. Who are all these people? Do you actually know them!?

This is the oldest trick in the book – fake profiles.

Review who your friends are – and remove those that you don’t know or don’t look right. That good looking profile of someone you don’t know could be someone misusing your data you share with your so called “friends”. Remove those you don’t know.

To get a handle on who can see which of your posts, it’s finally time to head to Settings then Privacy.

Start with “Who can see my posts”, then click on “Who can see my future posts” to manage your defaults. You can go full-on public and share with the world, or limit your circle by geography, employer, groups, etc. Whatever you choose will be your default from here onwards.

Also make sure you use the “Limit past posts” option to make your previous posts private.


Some final considerations & Facebook options to check:

Don’t overshare your personal info – Don’t share your email or mobile phone number unless you absolutely have to, and if you do, keep the circle as small as possible.

Enable the option to “Review posts you’re tagged in” before the post appears on your timeline, so at least you can remove anything that you’d rather not see there.

Limiting what others share about you – Select “Timeline and Tagging” in the menu. There you can limit who can post to your timeline, who can see which posts, who can see what you’re tagged in, etc.

Your tolerance here will vary depending on how active a Facebook user you are and how obnoxious your friends can be, but at the very least it’s helpful for setting custom audiences that exclude people—your manager, or an ex—you definitely don’t want taking an active role in your Facebook updates.

Review your settings – To test out your changes, head to “Review” >> “View As” to see what other people see on your timeline, where you can see what your account looks like through a friends account.

Last thing you’ll want to change is the Face Recognition option in the left-hand menu pane as well. It has some genuine uses however if you fundamentally find it creepy that Facebook’s algorithms hunt for your face then go ahead and switch it off.

Hey presto – you are protected… for now.

You need to check back on a regular basis to ensure no new features / settings have been introduced.