Social Media Security Settings

[custom_frame_left]Social Media Security Settings Shield[/custom_frame_left] If you’ve noticed the rampant spam on your social media profiles, and wondered “how in the world did that get there,” then this post is for you.

In this text tutorial, you’ll learn how to check your settings in three popular social media spaces: Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus.

You’ll also learn how to determine which third party applications have been granted access to your accounts, and how to disable them, if necessary.

Why are social media security settings important?

You may have noticed that just about every website out there allows you to login with a facebook, twitter, or google account. On one hand this is a good thing. It cuts down on the number of user names and passwords you need to remember. On the other hand, it’s a bad thing, because it gives the website or application access to your social media or email accounts, which can sometimes have personal information attached to it. Malicious apps can send out emails on your behalf, or tweets, or post to your facebook wall without you knowing. There’s nothing like waking up and finding half your list has un-followed you and the other half has sent you nasty DM’s.

Of course, you’re not going to give access to a program you know is a malicious program, but these applications are tricky. They don’t appear to be malicious upon first view; they appear to be helpful productivity apps. That is, until they hijack your account and cause you to get banned by Facebook on account of the 10,000 messages you sent linking to pop-up spam sites.

The fact is, before an application can target you for spam, you must enable it and give it access.  That usually means clicking on a link that takes you to the application itself, or the web page  for that application.  It also means you have to enter your login credentials and agree to give it access to a particular social media account.  This is pretty obvious in both twitter and facebook – because you will be taken to their third party application pop-up access screens, but less obvious in Google plus, which can be attacked via browser extensions, installed applications, and application links.

The idea is to avoid giving suspicious applications access to your accounts. But, if by chance, one gets through and you discover that an application is playing dirty with your account, or if you just want to check which accounts currently have access, here’s how to do it.

 

Twitter | Revoking Access to Unwanted Applications

How to opt out of third party applications on Twitter

Twitter is the easiest of all the social media to access your settings panels, and once you’re there, to actually understand what’s going on.

The menu items are written in a more common sense way, in my opinion.

To see which programs have access to your Twitter account click the drop down arrow on the top right next to your Twitter profile name.

How to access the settings panel in Twitter

Once there, click on Settings in the drop down menu.  It will take you to a screen that looks like this:

 

Access applications panel in Twitter | how to remove twitter application access

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All the way to the right, click on the Applications tab name.  You’re then brought to this screen:

Revoking application access in Twitter Settings

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There, you’ll see a list of applications that have access to your Twitter account and the extent of the access.  You’ll notice some have read access, others have read and write access, which means they can make posts for you.

If there are any applications to which you don’t remember granting access, or no longer want to have access simply click the “Revoke Access” button, shown under the red circle in the picture above.  This will remove the application from your twitter account and not allow it any further access to read your tweets or to post any tweets on your behalf.

Voila. Twitter access verified.  Now for Facebook…

 

Facebook | Revoking Access to Unwanted Applications

How to revoke access to unwanted applications in Facebook

Removing unwanted applications from Facebook is slightly more involved than Twitter, but still just a few buttons and links and you’ll be cruising spam free!

Start from your main Facebook page, either your home screen or profile screen.

This should be the landing page once you sign in.  If you’re always signed in, go to the top right and click on the Account drop down arrow.

Accessing Account Settings in Facebook

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Then click on Privacy Settings.

Once you do, you’re taken to a screen like this:

Access Private Settings in Facebook

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This is the main Privacy Settings page where you can control what you’re friends see when you post on Facebook.  You can also control people you are blocking and how and when you share items. Circled in red, is the link you want.  This is your list of applications and websites with access to your Facebook account.

Once you click, you’re taken to a screen which lists the applications. It looks like this:

Application Settings in Facebook

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Your applications are listed in order of most recently added to oldest application added.  Here, you have a few options. Circled in red, you can edit the settings of any and all applications currently with access to Facebook.  You can also click on the application name in the Green box on the left.  The first option brings you to a new screen, the second option is just a drop down accordion type box which shows you the settings for the application which you clicked.  You’ll also notice the link to “Turn Off’ all platform apps.  This is a good way to shut down all outside access if you desire.

We clicked the application name and that brings you to a drop down settings like the picture below.  We chose Hootsuite.

Application Settings Detail in Facebook

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There are two options here.  The Items on the left side of the list are the types of access this program is granted.  You’ll notice a program like Hootsuite gains alot of control in Facebook. IT has the ability to:

  • Access public information
  • Access profile information
  • Access contacts, family and relationships
  • Access Photos and videos
  • Access Friends’ Info
  • It can also post to my wall, access my new feed, read check-ins, insights, and manage my events.  That’s quite alot of power.

You’ll also notice the words Required and Remove in the column to the right.  Required means this kind of access is required for the program to function properly.  Remove means you can remove that type of access and still let the program application gain other access to your facebook account.  You can’t mess with the required functions, but you can remove the functions that do not cause the application to stop working. These are usually extra add-ons to the program.  If you don’t want to remove the application altogether, you’ll have to live with and accept the level of access it gains via the required parts of the program.

If you do want to remove access to an item that is “required” you’ll need to remove the application altogether.  To do that, simply click on the “Remove Application” link on the very top line of the application settings window, highlighted in gray.  This is on the same level line as the application name.  In this case, Hootsuite.

To remove access to non-required parts of the application, simply click on “Remove.”

Two down, and one to go: Google Plus.

 

Google Plus | Revoking Access to Unwanted Applications

Accessing Connected Application Settings in Google Plus

Google is a bit different from the other sites because it integrates with so many applications, including ones that can gain access from browser extensions.

The process by which you view, accept, and remove access is not unlike the other two social media applications.

To start, from your Google Plus account, either Stream View page or your Profile View, click on the Gears drop down  in the top right of the screen as shown in the red circled area in the picture  below.

Accessing application settings in Google Plus

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Make sure to click on the “Google + Settings” option, after which you’ll be taken to the general settings screen shown here:

Application settings and revoke access screen in Google Plus

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Here, Google shows you a few things.  First, on the left side of the screen you’ll see a menu navigation of sorts, listing the types of things you can do in your account.  Google + should be highlighted, that’s where we are viewing settings.  To access the programs and applications that link to your page, you’d click the “Connected Accounts” link, shown circled in red.

As an aside, this screen also lets you change which types of notifications you get from Google Plus, like how often you are notified when someone posts a comment on your post, tags you in a picture, or simply posts on a shared post after you’ve posted.  For the purposes of this article, we click the link shown in red and we’re taken here:

Revoke access to third party applications in Google Plus

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This is the connected accounts page, and it lists all the accounts which have access to your google plus profile.  Google Plus is more like Twitter; you have only two options really, Access or No-Access.  It is not like Facebook in that it lets you choose parts of the application that work and other parts that can be left out.  It also does not show you the type of access that program has.

Clicking on the application link name itself simply takes you to that application.  It will not show you settings. You can however, choose which applications show up in the links section of your public Google Profile, and this is done by selecting or un-selecting the check box shown here in the Green box.  This provides you with quick access to those applications when viewing your profile in Google Plus.

However, to remove access to an unwanted application you’ll need to click the “Remove” button shown in the red circled area in the picture above.  This will remove the application completely from your Google Plus account and no longer allow it to gain access.

That’s it. Keeping your social media applications clean and spam free isn’t so mysterious after all. (YFKG3DU2UGUC)

[message type=”success”]If you have a question about pruning your social media security settings, or a tip on making your social media accounts more secure, please let us know by leaving a comment below.[/message]

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Craig Grella

Founder and Executive Director at OrgSpring
Craig is the founder and executive director or OrgSpring, a nonprofit dedicated to helping other nonprofits achieve their missions online. Through tips and tutorials, Craig's goal is show nonprofits how to use technology to become more efficient, grow their list of supporters, and increase online donations.