Making Sense of Apparently Unwanted App Installs by Facebook

theharmonyguy has a good clarification of a story leading to many sites dog piling on Facebook. In this instance he explains how the appearance of apps in the in the recently used section of a user’s profile is old behavior that happened with Friend Connect and third party sites well before the rollout of the new third party integration features. He also points out that just the appearance of these applications doesn’t mean they got any personal data as a consequence.

On the description page for an application, you’ll see a list of friends who have added the app. That list only includes friends of yours who have taken the extra step of “installing” the application as described above. If you only visit a Facebook-enhanced website or Facebook application but don’t agree to the extra prompt, you will never show up in that list or the general list of an application’s users.

There are clearly some limits, long standing ones, on what permissions are granted. However, despite this story being unintentionally exaggerated, it does highlight one of Facebook’s core problems. Most users cannot suss out what data is being shared with whom and how to alter their settings to effect a policy that matches their expectations. Even expert users have a hard time and many are publicly deleting or deactivating their accounts rather than making the effort.

3 Replies to “Making Sense of Apparently Unwanted App Installs by Facebook”

  1. I’m done with Facebook. Of course, having “deleted” my account I have no idea what they will continue to use in their marketing. Too greedy and too insensitive.

  2. I’ve gone and changed all the settings I can find to what I feel comfortable with but the problem for me is that I keep finding more and more settings that need monitoring. Navigating through the morass needed to edit a person’s settings is the main issue for me.

    Another thing is not all of us are logging in daily and thus have no idea that changes have been made by Facebook. It would be easy enough for them to notify everyone via email of these changes when they happen. My web host service notifies me when an installed app on my site should be updated. Even my ISP emails me on changes to services such as webmail.

    Facebook seems eager *not* to let people know of changes and how to make edits.

  3. It’s the appearance of impropriety that loses public support. Facebook not caring about stuff like this appearing to be non-private is a perfectly legitimate reason to distrust them and stop using the service. If they really valued the principle of user privacy at all they would do everything they can not to be *perceived* to violate it. The fact that they don’t should be very disconcerting to all. Regardless of whether not the common perception is accurate.

    Facebook isn’t scholarship. There is no secret codex. What the public thinks is essentially what is, at least that’s how Facebook should treat it if they want us to take them seriously as a responsible, adult service.

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