Much has been written and discussed about privacy and social media. I always advise users to post with full knowledge that updates and comments can be read by people they don't even know and might live on forever in cyber eternity. And while that can be pretty daunting, it's only the tip of the privacy iceberg. Serious privacy infractions can be hidden much deeper from view.
Think about the apps - short for applications. An application is software code written for many fun and useful tools to be utilized on social media sites and smartphones. The amazing array of offerings make them very hard to resist. Video games are not novel, but the ability to play interactive games with people from all over the world via the use of an app, has practically defined the term 'social' in our online world. Facebook and smartphones would be less appealing without these apps and certainly a lot less fun.
Some apps have a small fee and many are free. They've been written for so many utilities that the Apple slogan "There's an app for that" has become less of a marketing message and more a common refrain. So what's the risk? A quote attributed to blue-beetle might describe it best: If you are not paying for it, you're not the customer; you're the product being sold. The commodity is information.
Who really takes the time to read the permissions we're allowing in our haste to accept and download a cool new tool or game? How likely are we to actually understand these permissions even if we did read them? What information is being collected and how is it going to be used? Recognition that the privacy policies of social media sites and search engines are vague and confusing may cause some people to refrain from using any apps in an effort to protect their information. That can be a prudent step, but depending on the account privacy settings, could still allow the release of the information via a contact or friend's app usage.
When it comes to app permissions, it's all or nothing. We are not allowed the choice to elect some permissions and not others. Early on, I adopted the policy to not use any Facebook apps in an effort to keep my personal information private. However, I have recently added a smartphone and a tablet PC to my technology toybox, both of which are loaded with really cool apps - and yes, one of them is Facebook. I have a hunch I've just let the proverbial cat out of the bag.
A recent Wall Street Journal article gives an indepth look into the issue of apps and privacy: Selling You on Facebook
How do you feel about app permissions? What steps have you taken, if any, to protect your personal information?
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