Have you used the “login with Facebook" feature to sign in to other websites or apps? If you’re like most people, you’re a tad bit busy trying to cross off tasks from a mile-long to-do list. The convenience of a simplified registration process is enticing. Not only is it a faster way to login in, it saves you from having to create and remember yet another usernames and password. Plus, using social platforms to link with other sites, apps and services can enhance your networking fun, and even make it useful and productive. It’s no wonder there are countless sites and apps that allow you sign in with your Facebook (or Google, Twitter or other social media platform) credentials. But, is the ease of the streamlined log n process really worth it?
The hard-to-resist shortcut makes Facebook the keeper of your online identity. In other words, the username and password you use for the social media platform becomes the master key to an enormous amount of personal information, preferences, and posts you have to the social network platform. So, if your login credentials are stolen, you can imagine the avalanche of sites compromised.
Additionally, when you use this feature, you may be giving third-party sites permission to monitor your activities, capture personal additional information, and even collect data about friends and colleagues in your network. These permissions usually appear in fine print when you first log in via your primary social platform. Still, few users take time to read and understand the fine print before clicking “I agree.”
Trackers can also hijack the "login with Facebook" feature to hijack and collect personal data you probably didn't intend to share. Data miners can siphon important information include your email address and public profile details such as name, age range, gender, location, and profile photo. They provide this information to offer audience-monetization services to publishers. The trackers are then able to charge advertisers more money because they know more about you. While such information monitoring can be benign, collectively it can be used for more nefarious purposes. For instance, the information collected can be used by companies like Cambridge Analytica to target you and your friends for political campaigns.
In a lot of cases, social integration—whether it's in the form of accessing data or as a security measure—is a good thing. Still, it doesn't mean that third-party sites don't end up doing annoying things on your social network accounts or make you an easier target for identity theft. As a good rule of thumb, take a pause and weigh the cost of your convenience.
Ruth is the founder of Jackson Lee | PA, a consumer law firm recognized for slaying the toughest legal issues. In addition to being an attorney and wife of one, she's a mom to four future world-changers. Drop Ruth a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.