Throughout January, The Social Path is running daily tips on how to improve your social life — online, at least. Click here to learn more.Yesterday we set the torch to our old social network accounts that had gone fallow. So while we're in the purging mood, let's take a hard look at Facebook applications.
Facebook has made apps a fluid and integral part of its success, and odds are good that -- whether you know it or not -- you've probably added dozens of apps to your Facebook account, often giving them wide-ranging access to private information about yourself or your friends.
I'm not against adding apps; I do it all the time. But I do think users need to be a bit smarter with their privacy settings for apps and try to keep the number of installed apps to a minimum at any given time. Luckily, both of those steps are pretty simple and shouldn't take you more than a few minutes.
Checking your apprivacy
First, at the top of your Facebook screen, go to Settings, then Privacy Settings, then "Applications and Websites."
You'll see an option to learn more about what information you share through applications, though you can't do much about it here. That level of privacy is determined by how much of your profile information is set to be shared with "Everyone." You can learn more about that in our earlier post.
What you'll definitely want to tweak here is "What your friends can share about you." There's a spooky long list of info that could potentially be divulged via your friends' apps, but you can throttle it back as much as you'd like.
Once you've made that upgrade, it's time to commit appocide.
Take the ax to your apps
What you're looking at is the "Recently Used" list of apps. Depending on your Facebook activity level, there are probably dozens more hiding in the nooks and crannies of your account. On the top right of this Applications Settings page is a drop-down list labeled "Show". There are several options beyond Recently Used, but I'd recommend checking the "Authorized" list if you want to see the most comprehensive roster of apps you've installed.
Then it's as easy as going down the list and clicking the little X. I've done this several times, and I still managed to kill 15 unused apps when I dropped by this time. If you use Facebook a lot and have never purged, you'll probably knock out an easy 50.
OK, that's enough antisocial rhetoric for this week of the Social Media Makeover. Tomorrow we dive back into the fun bits of building new (and old) connections.
Estimated time needed: 15 minutes.
Benefits: Improved privacy and less clutter in your Facebook account.