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How to Avoid Facebook Scams


Facebook Scams
Adrienne Felt, a computer security student, created an app that brought to light some Facebook security vulnerabilities.
Adrienne Felt, a computer security student, created an app that brought to light some Facebook security vulnerabilities.
AP Photo/Andrew Shurtleff

Facebook apps come in dozens of varieties with hundreds of examples in each category. There are quizzes, games, tools and other apps that let you rank everything from your favorite albums to the celebrities you'd like to meet. Each of these apps requires you to install a few lines of code to your Facebook profile. From your point of view, all you have to do is click a button on a page, indicate that you accept the user agreement and install the app.

But not all apps are innocent. You should pay attention to what kind of information the app says it must be able to access to work properly. Facebook's privacy policy is built on two principles: Users should have total control over their personal information and they should be able to access the information other users wish to share [source: Facebook]. When you fill out a Facebook profile, you can include information ranging from your date of birth to your address to personal contact information. Facebook also tracks information about how you use the site. If that information remains private, you feel safe. But what if Facebook shared that information with someone you didn't know?

That was a problem with some early Facebook applications. In order to function, most applications need to access some of your information. Early apps would often access far more information than they required. That meant the developers of those apps could access a great deal of personal information about users. Facebook tried to put a stop to this and demanded that developers only request access to information that was necessary for the app to work the way it should.

Facebook points out in its privacy policy that users can choose which information remains private. But it also points out that although it provides privacy protection, no system is perfect. It's possible for developers to find ways around safeguards and access information. It's a good idea to do a little research about an app before you choose to incorporate it into your profile.