Too Many Facebook Apps? Why You Should Remove Them — and How to Do It

Reviewing Your Facebook App Permissions Keeps Your Data Safe

Image of a person using Facebook
Protect Your Facebook Privacy by Revoking Access from Third-Party Facebook Apps You No Longer Need. Image (c) Peter Macdiarmid / Staff / Getty Images

It's really easy to take some fun personality quizzes, enter a giveaway (or a dozen), and play around on Facebook, all without thinking about the number of companies that you've given access to your account information.

If you haven't removed any apps recently, chances are you've given too many companies access to the information you share on Facebook. Here's why that's a problem — and what you can do about it.

Why You Should Remove Facebook Apps Regularly

When you enter Facebook sweepstakes, take quizzes, or even use the 'quick log-in with Facebook' option on another website, you give apps from companies outside of Facebook permission to access some of your information and to collect data about you.

Have you thought about how many companies have access to your Facebook info? The higher the number, the more vulnerable you are.

The data the apps collect can be used for marketing purposes, leading to more spam. If the company behind the app is not reliable, your private information can be used for even more nefarious purposes like harassing your friends or making you more vulnerable to hackers. And you can make your friends vulnerable by giving away access to your friends' list.

How much information each app collects varies from company to company. To enter a giveaway, for example, you might be asked to give the app access to your profile information, your location, the ability to post updates on your wall, access to your list of friends, and more. Some of this information is necessary for the app to do its job, but sometimes, companies ask for more permissions than they actually need.

Over time, you end up granting permissions to many apps. That adds up to a lot of third parties having access to personal information. And if those companies sell the information they mined, that number can mushroom.

To protect your privacy on Facebook, set aside time to review the applications that have access to your Facebook account regularly, and to remove any apps that you no longer use. For example, when a giveaway expires or when you have the results of that quiz, remove that app right away.

If that sounds intimidating, it doesn't have to be. Here's a step-by-step guide to how to do it.

How to Remove Facebook Apps (Without Driving Yourself Crazy)

It only takes a few seconds to revoke access from Facebook apps. It's a smart idea to pick a fixed date, such as the first of every month, to review which apps you've given access to and to remove them or limit their access.

Here are four easy steps to remove unnecessary apps from your Facebook accounts:

1. Open Your Facebook Privacy Settings

To access your privacy settings in Facebook, make sure that you're logged into your account, then open your Account by clicking on your icon at the upper right-hand side of your Facebook page.

From there, select Settings and privacy, then Settings.

Finally, click Security and login.

2. Edit Your Settings for Applications and Websites

Next, look for the Apps and Websites section on the left-hand side of the page and click it. This will show you the list of all of the apps you've granted permission to. You'll have the option to View and Edit or Remove each app.

3. Review Your Facebook Applications

Now that you have the full list, you can remove Facebook apps you no longer need. Some good reasons to remove Facebook applications include:

  • You haven't used the app for a while, and don't plan to use it anytime soon.
  • You signed up for the app because of a giveaway that's expired now or a quiz that you've already taken.
  • The application requires too much access for the benefits you get from it.

4. Remove Facebook Applications You Don't Need

To remove Facebook apps, just click the Remove button.

How to Limit or Revoke Access by 3rd Party Facebook Apps

If you don't want to remove a Facebook app altogether, you can also protect your privacy by restricting or revoking its access to your personal information.

Clicking the View and Edit link next to the app's name will show you what type of permission the app requires and what's optional. For example, access to basic profile information might be required to use the Facebook application, but you might be able to opt out of giving permission to post to your wall.

If a level of access is not required to use the app, you'll see the option to "remove" that access. Click on the link to restrict the permissions you've granted Facebook applications.

What If You're Not Sure You Want to Remove the App?

Facebook's app screen gives you some additional information to help you decide whether you really want to remove the app or not.

Clicking the View and Edit button gives you some more information about the app, in case you've forgotten why you have it or you can't decide whether or not you want to keep it.

You can view the privacy policy of the app to see what they do with your personal information, and you can even contact the developer and ask them to delete any data they've collected about you.

Some major warning signs of apps you'll definitely want to remove are:

  • Apps that ask to be able to manage your pages or events (especially if there's no good reason for them to do so).
  • Apps that ask for full access to your Facebook account.
  • Apps that want to be able to access your Facebook chat.
  • Apps that ask for access to your friends' list.

All of those permission requests can lead to your account being used to spam your friends, set up bogus Facebook pages, and other underhanded marketing tactics which you don't want to participate in.

If the app in question doesn't do any of these things, then it's a judgment call. You can remove the permissions and add them again if you want to use the app in the future, or you can wait and see how you feel when you do your next pass-through at the date you've scheduled (you didn't skip that step, did you?).

Now that you have your apps straightened out, check out how to avoid Facebook page scams and how to quickly unlike companies on Facebook.