Spreading Facebook app FUD

Summary:Facebook apps gather information about you and your Facebook friends. This is nothing new, but many users don't know how to protect themselves. It's important to educate, not just spread FUD.

After the stalker app Girls Around Me caused a lot of commotion this week, The Wall Street Journal yesterday published an article titled "Selling You on Facebook" which is clearly meant to spread fear, uncertainty and doubt (FUD) about Facebook apps. Informing the reader about an issue is one thing, but causing him or her to panic is a completely different one. Here's an excerpt:

Some of the most widely used apps on Facebook—the games, quizzes and sharing services that define the social-networking site and give it such appeal—are gathering volumes of personal information. A Wall Street Journal examination of 100 of the most popular Facebook apps found that some seek the email addresses, current location and sexual preference, among other details, not only of app users but also of their Facebook friends.

Let me rephrase that for you: the WSJ did not find anything new. Facebook apps have been doing this for a long time, although many are getting better at communicating what information they require of you. Most need it to offer you a better experience, although some abuse this data.

Let me be clear: I have no problem with bringing attention to privacy concerns even if they have been discussed before. My problem is that the article doesn't actually explain how you can protect yourself.

In my article about the issue this week, How to protect your Facebook account from stalkers, I do just that. After I explain what is happening, and why the reader should be made aware of it, I offer solutions.

Here's the summary:

There are three things you can do to protect yourself from Facebook stalking apps: uninstall some of them, limit the information your friends’ apps can see, and/or block all apps period.

I'm not the only one who thinks the WSJ article isn't approaching this properly. TechCrunch and The Technology Liberation Front offer their own takes.

See also:

Topics: Apps, Social Enterprise

About

Emil is a freelance journalist writing for CNET and ZDNet. Over the years, he has covered the tech industry for multiple publications, including Ars Technica, Neowin, and TechSpot.

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