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Review the apps and services that access your social media profiles: Alert Priority Moderate

Priority Level: 
28 March 2017

Manage the permissions for apps and services that access your social media profiles – or you could be increasing the risk to your information.

For many of us, social media is an invaluable tool for socialising with friends and family, sharing photos and videos and expressing ourselves creatively. However, many social media services ask us to provide personal information such as our full name, date of birth, address, email addresses and employer name when signing up.

Some of us will want to manage or extend the capabilities of the social media services we use, or add new work or social tools to obtain more value from our presence online. To do so, we may choose to download applications from the internet.

During the download and installation process, many of these applications will ask permission to access your social media accounts. In most cases they will need this permission to perform the activities you want them to.

For example, you may choose to install an application that allows you to organise and share your information across several social media accounts. The application will need the details of all the accounts you want to coordinate in order to work properly.

However, most applications will keep social media access permissions until you actively revoke them. If you do not manage which applications have these permissions and cut them off when they are no longer of use to you, you may increase the risk to your personal information.

For example, an application that is no longer supported may not be updated to close vulnerabilities that potentially allow an attacker to gain control and access to the information in your social media account. They may then use this information for malicious purposes such as posing as you on your accounts. Other changes may include the application being sold to a person or organisation, or the activities it performs changed. 

Stay Smart Online recommends that you review each service that you use and maintain a list of allowed permissions for your own reference.

Below are some menu options for widely used social media services that enable you to check the apps and services that have permission to access your account.

For Twitter users, go to https://twitter.com/settings/account in your browser while logged in and click "Apps".

For Facebook users, go to https://www.facebook.com/settings?tab=applications in your browser while logged in.

For Instagram, log into the website and click your username in the top right, the "Edit Profile". Next, click "Manage Applications".

For other social media accounts, the information may appear under terms such as "Connected Apps" or "Manage Access".

Stay Smart Online also recommends that you enable two-factor authentication to prevent people from accessing your account and to regularly review security settings for your social media profiles.

More information

Stay Smart Online contains information additional information on using social media safely.

The information provided here is of a general nature. Everyone's circumstances are different. If you require specific advice you should contact your local technical support provider.