Yesterday I had an interesting thing occur when testing out a new Facebook application: my activity was automatically shared with my friends without me being aware. This new functionality is part of Facebook’s “application discovery stories” which help organically drive awareness of new Facebook application, yet simultaneously potentially sacrifice a user’s privacy. Here’s how to protect yourself.

What Are Application Discovery Stories?

Yesterday evening while watching the San Francisco Giants game, I was sitting next to my girlfriend who happened to be browsing Facebook. When I looked over at her screen, I noticed the following story in her feed:

The story was automatically generated when I installed the Vchatter application, after receiving an email from one of their communications people. While this typically wouldn’t be a big deal, the content displayed within Vchatter can often be a little more revealing than you expected. While I happened to be exploring for work, anybody who installs the application and is soon exposed to male genitalia will probably wonder what exactly you were up to (if you’ve used ChatRoulette ever, you’d know how this app works).

The problem here was that I wasn’t aware Facebook was automatically generating the story about my application activity. While Facebook may assume that all application activity is safe for the general public, letting all my friends know that I installed a dating application, like Are You Interested?, is something I may not want my friends to know.

As such, I decided to look into how to remove this application activity all together. Fortunately, for all those people who are engaged in activity on Facebook that they don’t want their friends to see (you evil sinners!!), I’ve created a short guide which shows you how to hide your application activity from others.

How To Hide Your Facebook Application Activity

Hiding your application activity is fairly straight-forward. First, you need to visit the Facebook privacy settings page (found here). Second, click on the “Edit Settings” under “Applications and Websites”, as highlighted in yellow in the image below.

Applications and Websites Screenshot

Lastly, scroll down next to the setting which says “Game and application activity”, which is highlighted in yellow below, and configure your settings to say “Only Me”.

Game And App Activity Screenshot

Once you go through this process, your friends will no longer be alerted to all the applications you are installing. If you happen to be perfectly transparent about all your online activity however, feel free to leave your settings as is!!