Remove apps you don’t want, Facebook asks users

Intrusion into people’s privacy is not a Facebook-specific issue, social media strategist says

Dubai: Days after Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg testified before the US Congress, Facebook has issued an advisory to all its users reminding them they control which apps they want to share their information with.

In the advisory, Facebook directed users to the Apps and Website section of their settings, where they can see the platforms they have previously used Facebook to log into. “You can also remove the ones you don’t want connected to Facebook anymore,” read the advisory titled ‘Protecting your information.’ The move was made after Zuckerberg sat through hours of questioning about the social network’s failure to protect the data of millions of its users, as well as its role in Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

The session was held after Facebook disclosed that 87 million users’ data could have been compromised as a result of the data breach.

Farrukh Naeem, social media strategist and tech influencer based in Abu Dhabi, said revelations of data breaches and privacy thefts are good reminders to citizens on how valuable and sensitive their personal information is.

“It is also a reminder to policymakers on why online operators need to be monitored and tougher laws need to be made to ensure that people’s information is not used and abused without their consent,” he said.

Users often sign off on terms of agreement when using an app or service without reading the fine print, disregarding the “buried privileges” they are giving away. Access to personal information can include contacts, date of birth, geo-location, online activity, and so on.

However, the issue still revolves around questions on who controls or monitors where the data collected is used, after app access is removed by a user.

While Facebook has repeatedly said it does not sell personal information to advertisers, it is being questioned by users around the world about whether it has placed safeguards to protect their information, or it has made it easy for app developers to extract and manipulate user information.

Despite the negative publicity and trending hashtags encouraging people to leave Facebook, Naeem said people must realise that intrusion into their privacy is not a Facebook-specific issue.

“There are thousands of software, apps, systems we use at home and at work that are collecting, storing, using and people’s data and activities — many of these we give permission to, many of these we are not even aware of — like mass surveillance, which intrudes into everyone’s data and then sifts through it to find what it needs,” he explained.

Referring to Facebook as a valuable platform for people to effortlessly stay in touch, Naeem said there’s a middle ground between not using an online service and giving away too much personal information. “Online platforms like Facebook need to find and claim that middle ground,” he said.


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