With the proliferation of Facebook applications, and people starting to install (even if they don’t use!) them, should we be getting concerned about them?

I mean, would we install a desktop application that promised to give us 30 seconds of entertainment if it wanted access to all our personal details – such as name, address, phone number, list of friends, etc?

I don’t about everyone else, but I have a habit of allowing applications that friends are using – experimenting with them for a bit, then removing them when I get bored. The key thing being, I remove them. How many other people do the same thing, but don’t remove them – leaving the application with access to your details?

Thankfully the data handling engine (and storage) is all on the Facebook system, but from what I can see there is nothing stopping the developer from adding offsite calls to push the information out of Facebooks system into their own – and would we really know? I’ve checked a couple of games quickly with the Web Developer Helper tool for Internet Explorer, and noted that some do appear to push information out – although the majority only download static content from external servers.

Perhaps we need to reconsider what information that we allow these applications to access? Might be nice if Facebook allowed you to see a summary of the information that is being exposed to the third party applications, and perhaps allowed us to anonymise some of the data?

What I would also like to know is what happens when we remove an application? There doesn’t appear to be a nice obvious indication that any data the application has collected while you have been using it has been purged (which SHOULD happen)…

Some of you will probably have noticed that over the past few months I’ve become rather interested in privacy on the net, in applications and of course with social networking (what better target – everyone has it in their life these days in one way or another). The reason behind this is that at my day job (plug … Money Dashboard Ltd … /plug) we are working on some pretty nifty software, and one of the aspects we are taking exceptionally seriously is data access and privacy. After exploring the required steps internally, I am amazed at how much information we divulge in our day to day lives, which could be construed as sensitive, to unknown third parties.

Maybe it’s time we started questioning it.