In a Privacy Peril last month we noted steps you can take to lockdown your Facebook account so you are not inadvertently sharing data with unintended third parties. While recent revelations have disclosed how extensively Facebook exploited its users' data, it is far from the only social media or other application to which users grant access to their personal photos, messages, contacts and other information.
When you "Allow" an app to access your data, you are granting it permission to view and use information you may hold, but is not necessarily yours. For example, do you really "own" the information in a text sent to you in confidence? From the sender's viewpoint, is there any difference between you intentionally forwarding that message on to someone else, or an application scraping that information and selling it to a third party?
The point is not that you should necessarily delete your LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and other mobile social media applications, or disable Lyft, Uber, Dropbox, and Amazon Prime Photos. Rather, it is that you should be cautious, intentional and selective when allowing an app access to "your" data. If an app does not need access to certain information, don't allow it. If you've already granted an app access to particular information the app doesn't need, revoke it. And importantly, if an app requires access to specific information you feel is confidential or do not feel comfortable sharing, carefully consider whether the benefits of using that app outweigh the risks of improper access and unauthorized disclosure.