Some of the coolest things on the internet are just not what they seem. That’s true of the “What are your most used words on Facebook?” images that are going nuts right now all through your timeline. Here’s a quick look at why you should read before you click with this and similar apps.
Ok, I get it, the idea of seeing a wordcloud of the words you most commonly use on Facebook is pretty cool. But after seeing it for a few days I decided to try it for myself and wanted to give you some advice before you do, and some tips if you’ve already done it.
What it is
This is a great little idea hosted entirely off Facebook that uses, well, requires actually, that you give the website some permission to access your Facebook account so it can then read all your timeline posts and create the wordcloud image that everyone has been sharing recently.
That concept is very simple. A wordcloud is not a new thing, you take a long list of words and the words that are most repeated in that list appear biggest, down to the least frequent being smallest.
But – I took a little bit longer to do mine and feel ok that the company involved know nothing more than my basic info and of course have all the words I’ve said on Facebook:)
What information are you handing over?
Did you know that unless you dug into the settings when you clicked the link to make this wordcloud happen you have handed over the following information?
- Public profile information – this is your name, your profile pic, possibly your age or age bracket – essentially anything that is ticked as “public” on your profile. That’s fine – because it’s public.
- Your Friend list – ahh, why on earth does this company need to have a list of my friends?
- Timeline posts – ok, this one makes sense – they need to see/read your timeline so they can make the wordcloud!
- Birthday – yep, they know your birth date. Why they need to know that? No idea, but they ask for it.
- Your Education history – a nice little feature of Facebook that shows the schools you went to, but again, why do they need this?
- Your Hometown – Again – why?
- Your Current city – Nope – don’t need to share this
- Access to Photos uploaded by you (3368), photos you’re tagged in (138) – what? Really? Why the hell do they need that?
- And your Likes – a list of all the pages you have clicked “like” on.
Now I don’t think for a second that the developers here actually want all that, nor do I think they’ve actually downloaded all your photos. But the fact is you likely hand it over if you just click away and create the word cloud.
What to do it you want to keep your data safe
Look, I love this, it’s heaps of fun and a great insight into your life and the things you share. But you can do it AND still keep a large amount of information safe.
To do that, read carefully on the first little popup that comes once you click the famous “login with Facebook” button.
There’s a little line there that says “Edit the info you provide”.
If you DON’T click that, you’re handing over all that information I listed above.
If you do, you can untick any of the things you don’t want to share.
By un-ticking all those little circles on the side (as I have done above), you’re keeping that information private from this developer.
In this particular case, you will need to keep Timeline posts ticked, or the wordcloud simply won’t work.
What if you’ve already done it?
So, you’re reading this thinking “what the hell have I done???” Well, calm down. Easy fix.
Go to Facebook, then click here – that’s the App Settings page.
See that list of “apps”?
Scary right? All those things have some level of access to your Facebook account. For many it’s likely to just be there for login processes, but for some there will be information sharing.
Find VonVon – they are the people behind the “What are your most used words on Facebook?” app.
Hover your mouse over them and click the little pencil to Edit Settings. Though, if we’re honest, if you’ve already done your wordcloud, you can just remove it now entirely!
Under edit settings, scroll around and untick those things you’re not keen to share. Or, better still – look down the bottom of the popup and click “Remove App”.
Click Remove and you’re done.
Oh, and if you’re really worried – email firstname.lastname@example.org and ask them to remove any data and information gathered on Facebook about you or your profile.
Lesson for the future?
Always look for that “Edit the info you provide” link. Always.