Is Facebook Your Pimp?

Unless you choose to do something about it, Facebook is both your peeper and your pimper.

gif of peeping tom watching someone through a peephole

You must know by now that although Facebook is free to use, you – and everything about you, your data – are the product. The pimp bargain is you give yourself to Facebook and Facebook sells you to other people, advertisers in one form or another.

The peeping bargain, which most people forget, is that when they download or sign up for an app or website using their Facebook login, they’re giving those companies a direct look into their Facebook profiles and lots of their personal data. That will usually include not just your email address and phone number, but frequently your current location and much more. And its a permanent peep – more like an always-on webcam than a locker room peephole.

If you’re cool with being pimped out and peeped at in exchange for what you get from Facebook, then its all good. If not, if silly you has some concern about your privacy, you can do two things:

  1. Opt out of being pimped by the ad tracking;
  2. Control who is looking at your naked data: look up the list of app companies that are logged in to your Facebook account and delete them or edit what part of your nakedness they are allowed to see.

Pop the pimp first.

cartoon image of woman slapping man in suit

You can comfort yourself a little bit with the knowledge that the ads being targeted at you are coming anonymously and in bulk, at everyone who is in some way similar to you. They aren’t literally being targeted at you individually, even if it feels that way. If you really don’t like them, you can opt-out of most of them by following the instructions here and here.

If you want to go even further, by limiting the ad cookies that advertisers use to track Facebook users across the rest of the web, follow these instructions here and read this backgrounder here.

Now you are a woman of mystery (the majority of Facebook users are female in the U.S., Canada, and the U.K.).

gif of smoke curling out of the lips of a mysterious beautiful woman with her eyes in shadow

Now for the apps. That requires a bit more digging.

Here is the summary of where you need to go in Facebook’s settings to see which apps are plugged in to your account: Settings > Apps > Apps you use > Show All Apps > Edit/delete. A more detailed set of instructions follows:

First go to the settings button on your Facebook page.

Facebook settingsFacebook

Scroll down and click “Settings.”

Facebook settingsFacebook

Inside the settings menu, click on Apps.

Facebook settingsFacebook

This looks like a list of apps that are signed into your account. But pay close attention to the “show all” option at the bottom of the list …

Facebook settingsFacebook

Voila! The list of apps tracking this user is so long you have to make this super zoomed-out view to see them all:

Facebook settingsFacebook

On each app, there is an Edit function and a delete “x” mark. Let’s look at what QuizUp, the hot new trivia mobile game app, knows about this user.

Facebook settingsSettings

QuizUp knows his email, birthday, and current location. Because it’s a mobile app on his phone, it also knows his phone number. But that’s not all …

Facebook settingsFacebook

Click this little “?” symbol on “basic info” and it turns out that QuizUp is getting a bunch more info about him, too, including a list of all his friends and his profile picture!

Facebook settingsFacebook

You can control this information by clicking on the “x” symbol to delete the app’s access to your Facebook account. That might mean the app won’t work, however.

Review each app to either edit its permissions or delete its access to you on Facebook entirely. It’s a bit time-consuming — but otherwise you’re just giving these people a permanent free peephole to watch and record your naked data.


[Article adapted, and enhanced with visuals, by me for my carnal audience, from the original authored by Jim Edwards, at – :]

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