How to block rogue apps on your Facebook account
I’m not overly fussy about who looks at my Facebook profile, but I’m starting to suspect that such nonchalance puts me in the minority. The number of rogue apps and other exploits being thrown into the social-networking mix that promise to reveal those who have looked at your profile this week, or since you joined – or even one that uncovers who’s stalking you through Facebook – would suggest that this is a booming arena of business for the bad guys.
The truth is that there’s no way of determining such information, as Facebook itself admits:
“Facebook doesn’t provide the ability to track who’s viewing your profile, or parts of your profile, such as your photos. Applications by outside developers can’t provide this functionality, either. Applications that claim to give you this ability will be removed from Facebook for violating policy.”
It takes only a momentary slip of concentration to click on something posted to your wall by someone you consider a trusted friend
These apps basically send you on a wild goose chase of link-clicking, permission granting and contact sharing – and whatever the ultimate payload, it usually involves trying to part you of some cash. The point is that you don’t want this kind of thing anywhere near your profile.
Sure, once you discover that you’ve been caught up in a scam you can do some manual profile gardening, such as deleting the app from the apps and websites section of your Facebook privacy settings (and changing your password while you’re there is always a good idea if rogue apps have been nosing around).
Far better, though, to prevent them from getting anywhere near you in the first place, since it takes only a momentary slip of concentration to click on something posted to your wall by someone you consider a trusted friend. I’ve been playing with one such tool recently, the Profile Protector from Barracuda Networks, which is free.
You need to trust Barracuda to connect with your Facebook account, and grant the app access to your wall, friends, friend requests and so on (just the sort of things that rogue apps want to do, in fact, but Barracuda is a well-known security vendor so you shouldn’t worry too much about that).
Once installed, it works like an antivirus scanner for Facebook profiles by scanning the user-generated content posted to your profile and on your wall. Anything malicious or suspicious is blocked or removed. I’d recommend it to my less security-minded friends and family and have indeed done just that. At the end of the day I’m being selfish, of course, because if they’re protected it prevents them from putting me at risk.