getting started with facebook for journalists

Facebook Applicatons

What are Facebook applications? 

Probably the biggest privacy hole in Facebook is applications.  On July 29, 2009 Sarah Perez published, "Does that Facebook App Have a Privacy Policy? Probably Not." on the ReadWriteWeb.com blog.

In this post Perez reports on research done by "theharmonyguy" on the blog Social Hacking. In that research of the top 25 Facebook applications, "36% of these top apps had no published privacy policy whatsoever or only offered a link to it."

Perez continues:

"Each of the top 25 applications on Facebook have at least 5.5 million monthly active users and 12 of these apps are labeled as "Facebook Verified," a designation which essentially means they have been given the Facebook seal of approval when it comes to their trustworthiness."

Applications, through the Facebook API, have access to all of the information that you enter on Facebook. Applications are suppose to respect your privacy setting. Even those that do not violate Facebook's privacy policy can access and distribute information that you thought was private.

Facebook explains application privacy. 

facebook application privacy settings 1

This means that an application that is authorizes by you or your friends can access your public information. For most users, especially journalists trying to attract users to content, this is generally not a problem. The next point is a potential problem.

facebook application privacy point 2

This means that if you have your privacy settings set to only allow family to see your photos but authorize an application for photo sharing that needs access to your photos to work, you implicitly grant that application access to your photos. Because applications have poor privacy policies and a great deal of access to your information, thoroughly research an application before you authorize the application. 

The following settings are for information about you that can be accessed by applications that your friends authorize.

facebook application privacy setting recommendation

The best recommendation for using Facebook applications is to research the application thoroughly and use only applications that your really need for your publishing and promotion.