Secure.me’s App Advisor Grades The Safety Of Facebook Applications

Not all Facebook applications are created equal. Secure.me, which is akin to virus protection for pages, recently launched the App Advisor — a report card for more than 500,000 apps on the Facebook platform. On Wednesday, the site will introduce a browser plug-n that rates the trustworthiness of an app (or a site that integrates Facebook), based on what kind of personal data it requires.

The site has a database of more than 500,000 Facebook apps — everything from Are You Interested to Zynga Bingo — and grades them on a range from high reputation to very poor reputation, taking into account what the app asks from users. Apps that want information from users’ friends (such as location and birthday) tend to receive lower marks from App Advisor, and those that just seek basic information (Facebook ID, name, gender, etc.) usually are rated higher.

Apps that asked for the ability to post on users’ behalf also graded poorly. According to Secure.me, 63 percent of the apps the company has analyzed request that action. Roughly 30 percent of the apps ask for users’ birthdays, and 69 percent have access to email addresses. Additionally, 5 percent of the apps analyzed have access to users’ photos and videos, going beyond the profile picture. About 10 percent of the apps are informed about the user’s hobbies and interests, and 12 percent have access to check-ins, hometown, and current city, while 21 percent ask to access personal data of users’ friends, such as birthdays, education, and work history.

Secure.me founder Christian Sigl spoke with AllFacebook about the need for users to know what information they’re giving up in order to play a game or utilize their favorite app:

We use Facebook Connect because it’s convenient, and whatever permission pops up, we just click “accept,” and we’re in. What’s really happening is not so transparent to the consumer … Your Facebook data are stored in your phone or your operating system, and that’s your whole life in there. It’s very important to keep track of who can access this data and who can use this data in what ways, because there’s a lot of abuse happening. That’s what we want to make transparent.

Secure.me Wednesday will launch a browser extension for Safari, Chrome, and Firefox. Whenever a user accesses an app, or a page that utilizes Facebook integration, the extension will show how trustworthy the site is.

Readers: How often do you read the fine print when connecting with a Facebook app?

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