November 27, 2018

Warning! Do You Know Which Apps Access Your Personal Data Through Google and Facebook Accounts?

Warning! Do You Know Which Apps Access Your Personal Data Through Google and Facebook Accounts?

In recent years, online and mobile applications began a trend the average person didn’t know would have such deep implications. Instead of punching your login information into each of them directly, you can now log in to dozens of separate apps with one single account—your Google account.

This goes a long way toward streamlining the login and interaction process and makes it easy to keep your app logins organized and cohesive. Have you ever thought, though, what it means for your data?

Right now, you may be logged in to dozens or even hundreds of apps via your Facebook or Google account. These apps, thanks to their integrations with your social profiles, can see your profile picture, the people you're friends with, the networks you belong to, and much, much more.

If this makes you uncomfortable, the first step is to learn what happens when you give apps third-party access to your Facebook page, and how you can ensure data privacy and secure information.

Read on.

How apps use your Google and Facebook accounts to swipe your personal data

Pinterest lets people sign up using their Facebook or Google account

Say you open a new app, and you use Facebook to log into it rather than opening a new account through the app. If this is your go-to option, it's smart to know that the apps you're using will likely gain access to a whole lot of your personal information, thanks to that decision.

According to Facebook, when you use Facebook to log into a third-party app, that app will be able to see personal data like your gender, your user information, your networks, your full name as it is displayed on Facebook, your username for the site, and your profile picture. They may also be able to see your full friends list and any other information that's public on your profile.

At the very minimum, Facebook shares whatever is on your public profile, such as your name and profile picture.

Google typically hands over either your email address or, as mobile becomes increasingly important, your phone number, giving the app developers the ability to contact you if they need.

If you remember the Cambridge Analytica data scandal, you'll remember that this issue was part of what was at the center of the said scandal. Cambridge Analytica, a political research firm, used Facebook to access data on about 50 million users. Their method? A third-party quiz app designed to give users information about their true personalities.

While this may not seem like a big deal, the issue was that the users did not provide their consent, and were not even aware that the app was collecting data on them and passing it along.

The loophole, though, was that Facebook didn't have a safety net in place to prevent this kind of data sharing, and that allowed Cambridge Analytica to use this information to create detailed psychological profiles of Facebook users and deliver targeted political ads to them.

How to figure out which apps have information on you

Canva gives you the option to sign up with Google

Want to know which apps have access to your Facebook data? Here's a simple method you can use:

1. Using the desktop of the mobile version of Facebook, select the drop-down menu.

This is generally located on the top-right side of the Facebook page. From there, click "settings."

2. Choose the option for "Apps and Websites."

Find this on the left side of the desktop page, or simply down the scroll list in the settings page.

3. This will expose all your third-party apps.

If you're anything like most Facebook users, you'll find that you've granted access to a huge array of apps, including many you might not even remember.


If you'd like to change an app and revoke its permissions, all you have to do is click the "X" button in the top-right of the screen. From there, you can select "remove."

Keep in mind that this doesn't wipe away any data you've already shared with the app. It just means the app won't get any new data from your Facebook page.

If you'd like to go through a similar process with Twitter, follow this link.

Identifying apps with Google account access

Want to organize the Google apps you've allowed account access? Start here.

From there, you'll be able to see a list of apps with access to your account. If you want to remove something, simply click "manage apps" at the bottom of the page.

Apps and their risks to personal data privacy

The new app TikTok gives users the option to sign up with their existing Facebook, Google, or Twitter account

Mobile applications have changed the way we interact with content online. Simple, streamlined, easy to use, and convenient. There's a lot to love about the world of mobile applications.

And this is exactly why businesses have increasingly integrated mobile apps. In fact, many businesses now use apps as their primary methods of interacting with customers.

Examples of the potential danger of apps, however, are everywhere. Consider the recent data breach associated with Under Armour's health app, "My Fitness Pal." The incident impacted about 150 million users and caused public shares to fall about 5% just days after the breach took place.

The inherent danger of giving third-party applications access to your Google, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other profile access is that glitches will continue to exist as long as the apps themselves do.

This means that the best way for consumers to protect themselves online is to be aware of this potential danger, limit the number of apps using your accounts, and remove access from questionable website and apps.

By installing apps carefully and discerningly, and understanding what data they’re actually accessing through your Google, Facebook, and Twitter profiles, you can protect your personal data and reduce the risk of it being abused.

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