When you use an app for a game, a survey or anything, you're sharing your data. There is a way to stop this.
Emory Roane of the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse says "users can and certainly should go to their Facebook page and check their connected apps."
To do that, go to settings. Click on Apps. Click on Apps, Websites and Plugins. Then you can deny access to all apps by clicking "disable platform." That's straightforward.
If you don't want to deny all apps, you can deny access to certain details about yourself — your religion, your family connections, your interests. Just click on "Edit" for "Apps Others Use."
If you don't want Facebook following you around, Roane says, turn off location services. "If it's asking for your location information all the time or when the app is up," he says, "maybe set it to only when the app is up or disable it altogether."
Or just don't use Facebook on your phone. There are other steps you can take, as laid out by public interest organizations like Consumer Reports.
Still, Terrell McSweeny, a commissioner of the Federal Trade Commission, warns users not to be overly confident of keeping all their information private. There are certain details that will be made public on Facebook no matter what you do.
"Your name, your profile picture, your gender, your cover photos, your networks, your user name are always publicly available," McSweeny says. "That's part of the policy of that website."
But Jeff Chester, executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy, a group that advocates for privacy rights, says Facebook has a reputation for suddenly changing its privacy rules.
"You could spend all day trying to protect your privacy on Facebook," he says. "You wouldn't be able to go to work or school. You'd be spending your day full time dealing with Facebook."
Chester does not think creating better privacy controls is the answer for consumers. "I think for the average person there's nothing that one can do to protect their privacy," he says.
Chester thinks Europe has the right idea. On May 25, a new law there will take effect allowing regulators there "to be able to come down heavy on Facebook, Google and the others," Chester says. The companies will be required "to get your permission first before they can use your data and create new limits on the ways that Facebook and Google and others operate," he adds.
Chester says it will be interesting to see if the new rules in Europe hurt Facebook profits.
In an interview earlier this week on CNN, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said he wouldn't object to some regulation of Facebook. But it seems unlikely he'd welcome what's about to happen in Europe.
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