January 11, 2013 at 2:27 pm

How To: Control Who Sees Your Listening Habits on Facebook

These days, many app developers encourage or require you to log in to their apps with Facebook. Not only does this keep their costs down because they don’t have to deal with figuring out who people are and administering the whole password thing, but it often lets them get to your friends, which can be an even bigger advantage as they try to expand.

Last year, evidence mounted that Facebook users are not always comfortable with that — especially when it comes to the articles they read. But even if an app is simply trying to share that you listened to a song, you might want to control who sees it. Luckily, Facebook gives you a way to do that, assuming you don’t fall into the trap of clicking “Ok,” “Agree,” and “Enough,  just let me get to the thing already.” As always, it pays to pay attention.

The easiest way to control who sees your listening habits is to make that decision, and execute it, as you’re installing the app. No time like the present! However, if you forget, or if you want to change your mind later, you can always go straight here to tweak the privacy settings for any Facebook-connected app.

When you’re installing a Facebook-connected app, you’ll see something like this:

facebook privacy music apps

Don’t just click “Log In with Facebook!” See that little box on the left that says “Friends?” That’s where you want to focus your attention. Click it, and you’ll see a number of options:

For most apps, and most people, that should do just fine. Pick “Public” if you don’t care who sees what you do and when you are doing it within the app; select “Only Me” if you don’t want anybody to see it; or select something in between.

Not granular enough for you? You can also choose to include people and lists piecemeal with the Custom option, which lets you authorize certain people or lists to see what you’re doing in the app, or even to exclude people like that lame ex-boyfriend who didn’t like your taste in music anyway:

facebook music privacy

What are these Lists, you say? Well, if you’d rather categorize your people rather than having Facebook do it for you (for example, if you work in a sensitive position, or are a schoolteacher who wants your college friends but not your professional colleagues to see what you’re listening to, and so on), these Lists are your real friends.

Facebook offers a number of ways to get to the Lists page, but the easiest is to just go straight here. You’ll be able to see all of your lists, create new ones, delete old ones, edit who belongs to each one, and so on. It takes time. But if you want total control over who sees your listening habits, it’s one of the most powerful tools in your arsenal — other than quitting Facebook entirely, which is thought to be impossible:

 

See also: