Feel Like Somebody’s Watching? It’s Your Apps!

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I keep a running list of articles that interest me, in case on days like today, I need inspiration.  I went back and looked at an article I bookmarked back in June.  The article highlighted a mobile app I had never heard of, MyPermissions.  MyPermissions takes the headache out of checking on who has access to your information.

Over time as we traverse this wonderful set of tubes known as the internet and access more and more services we regularly grant access to a large variety of other people to our stuff.  As the CNET article says you can get this information from directly going to the services.  Let’t go through what I found out from the MyPermissions app, and some hints as to where to find those permissions settings on the individual platforms.

 

Facebook

I opened the MyPermissions app, gave it access to my Facebook stuff (ironic that I give access to an app to find out which apps have access?  Perhaps), and off I go to find out that 39 different things have access.  I am sure that some of you have many more, but 39 was quite a surprise to me.  Let’s look a little deeper.  You can drill down into each of the apps and find out what they have been doing.

My example will be Megapolis.  I don’t even remember what the heck this thing is it has been so long since I have used it.  I even had to google it to find out what the heck this thing is.  And this app last access my information on May 6.  May 6?!?  That was only two months ago.  This means that no matter how often I use this app they are still harvesting my information.  Thankfully they only have access to my basic information.

Basic information includes your name, pictures, gender, networks, your user ID, your list of friends and any information you have shared with everyone.  Basic yes, but do you consider the list of your friends basic?  Each of your apps may have done some bit of tweaking to what they request.  For instance, the Kevin Smith app I had listed was accessing almost everything on my Facebook.  Why?  I don’t know.

Rest of the Story – Megapolis has now been denied access to my Facebook information.  Bad app.  Bad app.

App Settings are available in the Settings section of Facebook.  Upper right hand corner of my web browser.

 

Twitter

Only 28 apps have access to my Twitter.  Only!  Some of the apps make sense.  OS X Twitter integration for sure.  So let’s look at some of the ones that surprised me.

Friendbuy – this is a customer referral program that for the life of me I don’t recognize.  Looking at their selected clients I am wondering if reading Bloomberg or researching the Dollar Shave Club gave access to Friendbuy.  Friendbuy has the ability to write and send direct messages on Twitter for me.  Maybe this explains some of the crap that has been going out.  Bad App.  This app’s access has been revoked as well.

On Twitter, App Settings are available as part of Settings.  In the case of iOS apps, it is a bit more involved to revoke access than just hitting a button.  You need to go into the Privacy settings on the device itself.

 

Google+ and Foursquare

Since my use of these has been sporadic lately, and quite frankly very sporadic generally in the case of Google+, the apps that have access are very limited.  So no bad app stories here.

On Google+, go to the your Account information and then to Google+ section.  Way down the page will be the section for Apps.

Foursquare’s app access can be seen in the Connected Apps section.

 

The Rest of the Story

What I think this little exercise has shown to me is that there are many surprises out there.  What we allow when we are just concerned by the app that we want right now is quite astounding.  I didn’t get any value from my use of some of these apps, but they had the value of an extensive portfolio of information.  I think I got the short end of the stick on that one.  Have you?  Even if you don’t use this handy app to do an information audit for yourself, you do owe it to yourself to go to each of the services to check out what you are giving access to.

I don’t know how often you should perform your own personal information audit, which is basically what I just did.  The nice thing about the MyPermissions app is that it will alert you as things change.  Just like that the alerts you get that Sandy Bigelow Patterson bought a jet ski.

 

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