New: Link: How to stop leaking private info each time a FB friend takes a personality quiz

A while back, I started looking at FB app coding, and was thusly creeped out. When someone writes a Facebook app, e.g., one of those What sandwich condiment are you?!? quizzes, they can tell that app to get information about the person who runs it--and about that person's friends. When the person runs the application, a screen comes up asking for permission to look at a bunch of stuff, including their friends' data. I.e., it shows one of those permissions screens that nobody bothers to read anymore. When the program runs, it "sends home" information about your friend--and information about all of your friend's friends. Thus, the personality quiz's writers get to see your FB data, just because your friend ran their app.

Each time you see something in your FB news feed saying "Your friend Joe is Miracle Whip! Take the What sandwich condiment are you?!? quiz." you can cringe a little--your friend Joe just gave away your Facebook information so he could find out what kind of condiment he was.

You don't want to freak out too much about this; for some applications, it's totally worth it to share this kind of information. But I don't want to give out my information to any bozo who throws together a personality quiz.

So I was pretty glad to see this article Quiz: What Do Facebook Quizzes Know About You?, even though it leans towards the privacy-freak end of the spectrum. Mostly, I was glad to find out about FB settings I can use to keep friends' apps from seeing this info even though I have a few friends who are enthusiastic personality testers. I didn't know about those settings before.

I will cringe less often in the future.

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Posted 2009-08-23