Facebook added an application settings dashboard to give users a way to see what information is available to apps. The move makes very clear what was previously murky. The result should be users who are more likely to trust your applications, because it’s harder for others to get away with tricking them into permission.
One of the most interesting aspects of the application settings dashboard is that it tracks the date that you gave permission, as well as when the application last accessed your data. In addition, you can see which items are required for the application to function. In the Yelp example above, I’ve provided the app access to my data anytime (even when I’m not actively using it), though that is not required. And we can also see that Yelp has used that permission within the last week to get my birthday and current city.
Facebook’s announcement post summarizes the point of the feature:
With these tools, people can understand what information they’ve shared and when it is being used on your applications and websites. You can build trust with your users by only accessing information when users would expect it.
As more websites allow users to provide developers with private data, these sorts of dashboards are going to become very important to communicate privacy status to users. Of course, developers can help with privacy, but a platform should be a partner in building trust with users.
It may be strange that Facebook is providing the blueprint for how sites will handle privacy with users. The social network has walked into a number of privacy faux pas over the years. But with recent launches, such as its location-sharing platform, the company seems to be paying very close attention, having learned how important privacy is to its users.