Facebook Timeline apps: 3 tips for protecting privacy

Facebook opened the floodgates to its “new class of apps” Wednesday, unveiling its partnership with more than 60 applications that let users share more about their daily lives.

In September at the F8 developer conference, CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced Timeline, Facebook’s new profile design, and the forthcoming apps that “let you express who you are through all the things you do,” according to Facebook.

For example, rather than “liking” something as you traditionally would on Facebook, you can now show what you’re doing, such as running, eating and watching, right on your timeline. These new actions are determined by the individual app.

Among the 60 new applications released yesterday are food apps Foodily, which helps you discover recipes and Snooth, a wine recommendation app; fitness app MapMyFitness, in which you log and share your fitness goals and accomplishments; and an app for Pinterest, an up-and-coming social network that creates pin boards for fashion, decorating and more.

Other categories include music, entertainment and news. You can view the full list of apps and drill down by category, here.

While Facebook hopes these new apps will keep you on its site longer, you can expect another change, too: a lot more noise in your Ticker and News Feed, and an influx of over-sharing.

Knowing your application settings is key to keep you from becoming that person in your circle of Facebook friends. Here’s a look at the settings that are available for these new apps and how to adjust them.

Facebook Apps: Choose your settings before you download

For some, the process of quickly clicking through the Facebook app install prompts is automatic: If you’re not paying attention, you’ll miss the opportunity to set your privacy settings before you start using the app.

Below the app summary information when you first choose to download an app is an option: “Who can see activity from this app on Facebook.” Depending on how you’ve set your default privacy settings–either public, friends or a custom setting–that will be the automatic setting for all your applications, unless you change it.

If you’re interested in using an application but don’t want your activity broadcast to your friends’ News Feeds and Tickers, choose the “Only Me” option. While your activity will appear on your Timeline, no one else will be able to see it.

Facebook Apps: How to adjust settings after downloading

If you’re not sure what your app preferences are or you want to adjust them, you can review them one by one from within your Privacy Settings page.

From the drop-down menu in the top-right of your screen, select “Privacy Settings” then choose “Edit Settings” next to “Apps and Web sites.” On the apps privacy page, click “Edit Settings” next to “Apps you use”–this will show you all the apps that you have downloaded, and the privacy and permissions associated with them.

Here, you can remove the app if you no longer want it connected to your account. You can also preview what permissions the app has and remove certain ones (some are mandatory, which you cannot remove).

The last option, “App activity privacy” will tell you who can see posts and activity from this app. If you don’t want Facebook to share your activity, change this option to “Only Me.”

Facebook Apps: How your friends may share your activity

Your friends and other people you share information with can also share your activity with apps they use. Here’s how Facebook describes this:

“One of your friends might want to use a music application that allows them to see what their friends are listening to. To get the full benefit of that application, your friend would want to give the application her friend list – which includes your User ID – so the application knows which of her friends is also using it. Your friend might also want to share the music you “like” on Facebook. If you have made that information public, then the application can access it just like anyone else. But if you’ve shared your likes with just your friends, the application could ask your friend for permission to share them.”

To prevent your friends from sharing your app activity with others on Facebook, go to “Privacy Settings,” choose “Edit Settings” next to “Apps and Web sites” then “How people bring your info to apps they use.”

Here, make sure the box next to “My app activity” is unchecked.

Kristin Burnham covers consumer technology, social networking and enterprise collabouration for CIO.com. Follow Kristin on Twitter @kmburnham. Follow everything from CIO.com on Twitter @CIOonline and on Facebook. Email Kristin at [email protected]

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