Let’s kick off this new year right by removing unnecessary third party apps from our social media accounts. (This blog post is a How To guide on removing third party apps from your Facebook account. For a guide on removing apps from your Twitter account, see this blog post.)

My sister informed me that she has given 146 apps permission to access her Facebook account. That is just too many! And I know for a fact that some of those apps have malicious intentions, because my Facebook wall has been spammed by some of them.

I for one, only allow a certain few applications that I trust access to my social accounts. Why? Because for starters, you don’t know what an application was really designed to do. Cyber criminals can create malicious applications designed to steal your personal information, or to take over your account in order to trick your friends into clicking on a malicious link. If you inadvertently give one of these malicious apps permission to access your account, you and your friends risk losing valuable personal information. So unless you trust the source of the application, do not give it access to your social account!

Secondly, although a third party application may be legitimate (and not intent on ruining your life), it may unknowingly contain security holes that open it up to being hacked by cyber criminals. So, the more third party apps you give permission to access your social account, the more vulnerable that account becomes.

Which Applications Should You Remove?

You should have as few third party applications as possible accessing your social accounts. Again, the more apps you have accessing your account, the more vulnerable that account is. You should remove:

  • any application you do not recognize
  • any application you no longer use or need
  • any application that has been identified as malicious or not secure

Examples of such applications include contest or prize apps you have given permission to send out a message on your behalf during a contest. For example, there are many applications designed to send out a tweet to all of your followers alerting them that you have entered a contest. That’s fine to do if you wish to, but once the contest is over, you should revoke that app’s access to your account, because it is no longer needed.

It is also good practice to remove any applications you do not recognize. Usually this means that you either gave an app permission to access your account without realizing it (a sign that the app may be malicious), or you knowingly gave it permission a long time ago, and no longer use it so you forgot about it. If it turns out that you removed an app you actually need, you can always re-allow it to access your social account. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

And of course, if a report comes out that an application you are using is malicious, you should immediately revoke its access. For example, a malicious Facebook app was recently released that spreads virally by posting itself on users’ walls.

How to Remove Apps From Your Facebook Account

To remove third party applications from your Facebook account, follow these 5 easy steps.

Step 1: While logged into your Facebook account, click on Privacy Settings. You can find Privacy Settings by clicking on the Account tab.

Facebook Privacy Settings

Step 2: Go to the bottom of the Privacy Settings page, and click on the Apps and Websites link.

Facebook Privacy Settings Page

Step 3: Click on the Edit Settings button in the Apps you use section.

Facebook App - Edit Settings

Step 4: Once in the Apps You Use Page, you will see a list of all the third party apps you have given permission to access your Facebook account. Look for any apps that you either don’t recognize or no longer have a need for. To revoke an app’s permission, simply click on the x next to the Edit Settings link.

Facebook: Remove App

Step 5: Click on the Remove button to confirm your selection.

Facebook: Confirm App RemovalAt this point the app you selected has been removed. Repeat steps 4 and 5 until you have removed all unwanted apps.

You also have the option to view the permissions each app you have given access to has. You can do this by clicking on the app. For example, the image below shows that the app I have selected only has permission to access my basic information, and send me an email. Some apps, on the other hand, pretty much have the freedom to do as they please on your account. You can use this information to help you determine whether you should revoke an app’s permission.

What a Facebook app has permission to do

If you’d like, watch the Sophos video below, which walks you through the same exact steps I just did.

Do you also have a Twitter account? Learn how to remove third party apps from your Twitter account.

How many Facebook apps have you given permission to access your account? How many apps did you end up removing? Were you surprised with what you found? Share with us in the comments.