New Facebook Privacy Threat

I have noticed some odd behavior with a couple of new apps and I have a feeling that you won’t notice this unless you are aware of it, so I’m letting you know now.

You’ve probably seen some Facebook updates that show a Yahoo! News item or a Washington Post Social Reader story such as these:

It seems innocent enough, but then you click on one of the stories you see (the top one using Washington Post Social Reader in this example) and you are prompted to give permission to the app which posted these stories using the profile of the one who read it. The box looks like this:

Well, that seems fair enough, so I go ahead and click “Add to Facebook” so that I can read the story. I get sent straight to the article and, something really creepy, it tells me who else has read the article meaning that if a third person comes along, I have NO CONTROL over whether or not I want them to know I’ve read this article. Notice by the way, that it doesn’t say it will be telling everyone you read this story on your Facebook Timeline or on their site; it does say it shares articles which is innocent enough. It does NOT give you the option on their site to “un-Like” or change their public action to show your name on their site.

This is really where the danger is. Nobody but me knows the motivation behind why I read an article. I’m concerned about the dangers of the Internet, so I’m going to be clicking on stories that may only interest me professionally and that should not be confused with me personally. Of course I could switch profiles, but really, this shouldn’t be so hard to keep what I am doing simple.

The problem then becomes that someone who sees my name on an article that I read may wonder why I am reading such an article and that makes this a privacy threat.

You see, I sometimes click on a link and I regret even going to read that story because it may contain content I didn’t realize was going to be there and I go back to where I was, but a record of my visit there has not only been recorded, but it’s made public. OUCH! And then I have no control over that! DOUBLE-OUCH!

And, in addition, it’s on my Facebook Timeline! Check it out:

At least I can and you can do something about that. I can simply hide it by clicking the upper-right-hand corner of each post each time if I want, but I’d rather not have to do this each and every time and I’d rather selectively choose which articles WILL show up on my timeline rather than all of them automatically showing up there, so here’s what I found I can do about it.

If you go to the following link in your Facebook (, you will be able to remove this app completely OR you can get rid of it’s capability to post on your timeline.

Just click the little X where it says “This app can also: Add app activity to your timeline” and this way you can use the app without approving/removing it each time without it posting to your timeline. It does not appear that you can re-enable this permission later to add it to your timeline nor does this option automatically reappear later if you remove and re-approve it.

So that’s it. You can customize this app further, but as far as options go, this seems to be it. If anyone finds any further way to keep my name off of websites using this app, please let me know.

If you really feel like sticking it to Facebook and Washington Post Social Reader and the Yahoo! app, then mark each one as spam. If enough people will do that, then this sort of thing will be lessened.

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