Let’s start off 2011 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 Twitter account. For a guide on removing apps from your Facebook 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 Trojan horse was recently discovered in repackaged versions of various applications and games in the Android Market.

How to Remove Third Party Apps

To remove third party applications from your Twitter account, follow these 3 easy steps.

Step 1: While logged into Twitter, go to Settings. You can find Settings by clicking the drop down arrow next to your Twitter username.

Twitter Account Settings

Step 2: Once in your Settings page, click on Connections.

Twitter Account Settings - Connections

Step 3: While in the Connections page, you will see a list of all the third party apps you have given permission to access your Twitter account. It will also list the date and time you gave each app permission to access your account, and the permissions given to that app (e.g. read and write access, read-only access). Look through the list for any apps that you don’t recognize, or no longer use. To remove unwanted apps, click on the Revoke Access link associated with that app.

Twitter Revoke Access To Third Party Apps

At this point any permissions you have granted that app have been revoked. You can verify the action did in fact take, if now instead of the link saying “Revoke Access” it says “Undo Revoke Access”. You will also notice that the app’s icon is now grayed out. Once you navigate away from the Connections page you will no longer see the removed app in your list.

Twitter Undo Revoke Access For Third Party Apps

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

What did you find in your Twitter Connections page? Were you surprised with what you found? Share with us in the comments.