Securing your Facebook account
The social media network moves to restrict access to user data for third-party apps
Ever since the Cambridge Analytica scandal became public knowledge, forcing chief executive officer Mark Zuckerberg and chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg to apologize, Facebook has been making changes to the way it allows third-party apps to access data. In yet another announcement on 9 April, the social media network said it was tweaking what it calls “data practices” as well as information that third-party apps on Facebook can access.
Facebook is addressing the debate about why and how Messenger and Messenger Lite apps had access to the call and message logs of Android phone users. While Facebook continues to insist that this remains an “opt-in” feature, the fact is that the app’s set-up process doesn’t really clarify that at first glance.
Interestingly, Facebook will still retain some of this data, as the official statement mentions. “We’ve reviewed this feature to confirm that Facebook does not collect the content of messages—and will delete all logs older than one year,” said Mike Schroepfer, chief technology officer, Facebook. The statement added that the Messenger apps would now “only upload to our servers the information needed to offer this feature—not broader data such as the time of calls”. That still remains confusing.
Facebook has made changes to the way apps could plug in to the Facebook calendar, wherein users could grant any app permission to access information about the events they hosted or attended. This included private events. However, this meant that the Facebook Events data would also include information about who else attended the event, as well as any posts shared on the event’s wall. “Starting today, apps using the API will no longer be able to access the guest list or posts on the event wall. And in the future, only apps we approve that agree to strict requirements will be allowed to use the Events API,” said Schroepfer.
The social network is also tweaking the login process for third-party apps. Facebook will now approve, at its own end, all apps that require access to any user data such as posts, check-ins and more. “We will also no longer allow apps to ask for access to personal information such as religious or political views, relationship status and details, custom friends lists, education and work history, fitness activity, book-reading activity, music-listening activity, news reading, video-watching activity, and games activity,” said Facebook in an official statement.
This means that the next time you use the Facebook credentials to sign up for, or log in to, an app, you will not have to see the screen that wants you to accept the terms and conditions allowing the app to access Facebook data such as posts, photographs, age, etc.
Facebook will also restrict apps from accessing user posts on any page. The social media network also confirmed that the consolidated app controls would roll out for all users immediately. This will be available at the top of the news feed when you log in to the Facebook app.
The other big change that Facebook will implement relates to the search feature. Till now, you could search for someone on Facebook using their name, email address or even their phone number (assuming they had linked it to the Facebook account). This meant that anyone with malicious intent, such as someone who has a phone number but not a name, could easily scrape data. Facebook will be disabling this feature.
If you aren’t sure about whether your phone number is linked to your Facebook account, you might want to head to Settings -> Mobile or Facebook -> Profile -> Update profile -> Contact and basic info to check.
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