Heads Up: The New Facebook Can Auto-Share Your Online Activities


Like most businesses, Boingo derives pleasure and value from engaging with our community. But fundamentally, we respect your privacy — after all, we’re consumers, too. We don’t like the idea of our personal information shared without our explicit consent. That’s why we researched the privacy implications of Facebook’s new auto-share, i.e., “Gestures,” and provided instructions for disabling the feature.

The skinny on app auto-share: 

Facebook’s new auto-share feature affects anyone who has added social apps to their Facebook account. Social apps are created by popular sites such as CNN, YouTube, Flickr, and Spotify. The apps connect a specific site to you Facebook account, allowing you to click “Like” or “Recommend” to share a news article, video, photo, or song to your Facebook news feed. The first time you share content from a site, you must first “allow” the site to access some of your information.

As you can see from the above screenshot, apps typically request access to your “basic information,” including anything you’ve “made public.” In other words, access to personal data is limited to what you’ve chosen to post on your Facebook profile, as well any public action on your part, e.g., posting or “liking” articles.

That was then. Auto-sharing is now.

Today, Facebook’s newly launched platform enables social apps to automatically share your online activities even if you don’t take direct action to share. This auto-share feature is enabled on all social apps by default.

What are some examples of auto-sharing  that could affect your privacy? Imagine you’re reading an article on CNN about a controversial or personal topic. That may be shared to your Facebook news ticker. Perhaps your buddy sends you a work-inappropriate video that you watch in the privacy of your own home. Now everyone in your Facebook network, including any co-workers, may see what you’re watching. Even a purchase on Amazon may be shared to your feed if you have connected the app to Facebook.

As we mentioned, you can disable auto-sharing. Your options include:

  • Customizing the permissions for each app individually. This can be very time-consuming for those who have many apps installed.
  • Clicking on a “select all” option and checking the apps you wish to disable.

We wish there was a convenient function to “Select All” and  disable auto-share without removing all apps. For instance, you may want to retain the ability to “Like” or “Recommend” content from most of the sites and platforms associated with your apps but wish to remove auto-share. This feature isn’t yet available today.

Instructions for customizing app-sharing permissions: 

1. Log into Facebook, click on the arrow located in the upper right corner of the screen and select “Privacy Settings.”

2. On the “Privacy Settings” page, scroll down to “Apps and Websites” and click on “Edit Settings.”

3. The next page tells you the number of social apps connected to your Facebook account and gives you the option to specify your privacy preferences.

To customize each app individually, click on “Edit Settings” or “Remove unwanted or spammy apps” (they go to the same page).

To remove most or all social apps, click on “Turn off all platform apps” and check the boxes next to the unwanted apps.

If you choose to keep a number of apps but wish to disable the auto-share feature, click on “Edit” next to each app and remove the permissions circled in the example below.


About Melody Demel

Melody is Senior Manager, PR for Boingo Wireless, where she is responsible for media relations, brand building and thought leadership initiatives. Melody is a die-hard Nebraska Cornhuskers fan and retired NCAA DI college field hockey player.
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One Response to Heads Up: The New Facebook Can Auto-Share Your Online Activities

  1. Kelly O says:

    Just getting to this now – thanks!!!