Facebook: How to Opt Out of App Permissions

Facebook HQFacebook friends, rejoice. A developer created an extension on Google Chrome that allows users to pick and choose the permissions that they grant to apps.

If you use Facebook Apps, you know that you have to grant an app certain permissions before it gets installed. Permissions can include things like being able to post on your wall, access your friends list, access to your personal information, and so on. You have no choice in the permissions that you grant, it is all or nothing–or at least it has been. In a sense, you are handing a stranger the keys to your Facebook account and hoping that he or she won’t abuse your trust.

Chad Selph’s add-on, dubbed OOptOut, allows you to select, by way of check boxes, the permissions that you want to accept–giving you total control over the level of access the app has to your Facebook account.

If that sounds too good to be true, there is a pretty big downside. Some apps legitimately need the information granted by some permissions to function properly–if they don’t get it, the app may not work properly or may not work at all. A second, fairly major limitation of OOptOut is that it is not quite ready for mass consumption: users will need to be able to create a git clone of the extension repository and operate Google Chrome in developer mode. Not everyone has that level of technical ability–but Selph is working on making the add-on a little more user-friendly.

A future version would likely have a better name, cleaner look, and be installed via a standard installer. As for people not knowing what permissions specific apps need in order to function, that should come too–as more people start using OOptOut, people are bound to start reporting on their own experiences with different apps. While manually setting permissions may be less convenient than simply accepting anything that an app requests, a little inconvenience seems a small price to pay for greater privacy and increased security.

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