Facebook apps

Why it is bad to use a facebook app, is best illustrated by an example.

At the weekend on Earth Day, Imogen Heap streamed a live event from the garden of the Round House. You could watch it from her website or on facebook, that I chose her website will soon become apparent.

“Me The Machine” Live Event

You can still watch the video, but for some perverse reason, only through a facebook app.

Re-watch ‘Me, The Machine’ + Earth Day Broadcast

This app requires the following:

  • your basic information
  • your e-mail address
  • your profile info: birthday, likes and location
  • your events

What is basic information?

Well its is actually quite a long list: name, profile picture, gender, networks, user ID, list of friends, and any other information you made public.

All handed over with a single click.

Now you may be happy to see all this information handed over to who knows where, to do as they please, but what of your friends? If you have no concern for your own privacy, do you not have an obligation to respect that of your friends, did you ask each and everyone if it was OK that their name be passed to this app?

But just when you think it can get no worse, what else can the app do or gain access to?

Any posts the app may make to your timeline, the default is public, ie anyone can see. An example of this is The Guardian app, everyone can see what you are looking at at The Guardian. The Guardian came in for a lot of criticism, which thy duly ignored.

But it should be noted that this privacy setting, default public, only controls what the app does on your timeline, it does not control what happens within the app, who has access to the information. It does not control or set who can see your activity within the app itself or when you are tagged within the app by someone else.

Pause and reflect for a moment. If you were filling out a form on a website, I think you would baulk at providing all this information, and at the very least you know where it is going, who is collecting it, or you think you know.

But do you know with an app, who is behind the app, what are they collecting this information for?

Sharing of data between facebook and third parties

On a website, there is often an assurance that this information will not be shared with anyone else.

Those whose personal data has just been bought by facebook for a $1 billion probably thought that. Now please do not tell me you thought facebook were paying a billion dollars for something a couple of competent software engineers could knock out in a few weeks, something that a handful of software designers did knock out in a few weeks.

Facebook, Instagram, Google, and the Monopoly Fallacy
A billion reasons to beware of the latest dotcom bubble
Don’t want Facebook to have more of your data? Here’s how to download and delete your Instagram account

Pause and reflect again. Would you hand this information over to a stranger who stops you in the street? You probably would not hand over even your e-mail address or telephone number.

Going back to my original example, this is a lot of information to hand over merely to watch what was streamed on Earth Day.

And who is collecting this information, what do they want it for, what are they going to do with it?

If it is Imogen Heap, then why not a form to fill out on her website?

If you wish to be kept informed of what she is doing, then fine, you hand over your e-mail address and she sends you a newsletter.

I have raised this with Imogen Heap, asked that she makes this film footage available without having to go through facebook. I can see no reason why not, it was possible to watch live on the night on her website without going through facebook.

I await her response.

Facebook is a walled garden. To gain access to the delights within your are forced to pay with your digital soul at the gate.

Web freedom faces greatest threat ever
Tim Berners-Lee: Don’t let record labels upset web openness

Tags: , , , , ,

One Response to “Facebook apps”

  1. keithpp Says:


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: