Safeguarding the data you share

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IRA PAULO POZON

We’ve all done it in one way or another. There is great appeal in joining a new online service with a single click of a button. One can argue that it’s efficient, time-saving and convenient to avail of the “Log in with Facebook” or “Log in with Google” options on many online services. With a few clicks, one signs up by authorizing the service to access relevant information from the user’s Facebook profile or Google account, which is much more convenient than filling up boring, lengthy, and repetitive forms.

I’ve done this myself, linking games and apps to my Facebook profile with little regard to the extent of what I am giving up. I should caution, however, that we carefully choose which online services to grant access to our profiles and account information.

The incredible popularity of funny and shareable quizzes and entertaining tests have put this issue at the forefront. Sites like WittyBunny, Vonvon, Meow-Share, and Kueez have dominated many a news feed, multiplying exponentially in popularity through their intriguing questions. After all, who wouldn’t want to know which Filipino celebrity one looks like the most, whether you still have a chance with your ex, or — perhaps the most popular one of late — what you would look like as the opposite sex.

With each click or share, you give these services an incredible amount of personal information when you use the connect with Facebook function. For instance Quora, the crowdsourcing question and answer site, asks for your “public profile, friends list, date of birth, work history, education, history, home town, current city, likes and email address”, clearly an incredible amount of personal information.


Meanwhile Grammarly, a free online grammar, spell check, and anti-plagiarism service, only asks for your name, age, gender and profile picture if you sign up via Facebook.

WittyBunny, Vonvon, Meow-Share and Kueez, all require you to provide information in order to use their services. In order to get results from any of their many questions you have to link via Facebook where you grant access to your public profile (your name, profile picture, age, gender and other public information) as well as your entire friends list.

The question now is how to limit the information we allow these services to access. For those that have been already granted permission, the answer is simply limiting or removing their access through Facebook itself. This is achieved by going to Settings -> Apps -> then selecting which app or game you may have linked to before. At this point you can remove the access completely, restrict access to other data and even request the developer to remove your information from their servers.

Another means becomes available when you are about to authorize an app or service to connect with Facebook or Google: click “edit this” to select what information you allow them to access. Some information will be required by the app or service while others are optional.

Finally, for services you want to use but do not wish to grant any access to your online profiles to, it would be best to do it the old-fashioned way, signing up through a form and filling in the fields, entering a password and all that jazz.

Incidentally, WittyBunny says I will be spending Valentine’s making coffee at home and that the local celebrity I look like most is Piolo Pascual. Cleary false on both counts, but fun nonetheless.

As a final note, here’s wishing everyone happy Valentine’s Day to all and to my Chinese friends, a very blessed and prosperous Chinese New Year as we enter the Year of the Dog. Gong Xi Fa Cai!

The author is the founder, CEO, and counselor for compliance, trade & investment, and government relations & public policy at Caucus, Inc., a multi-industry, multi-disciplinary consultancy firm. He graduated MBA from De La Salle University, Juris Doctor from Far Eastern University and LLM in International Commercial Law from the University of Nottingham. He teaches at the College of Law of the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila and at the College of Arts and Sciences of Miriam College. The author may be emailed at iap@caucusinc.com

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