Earlier this year an app called “Twitter family tree” was trending. The humorous “game” created a “family” tree that jokingly turned the accounts you interact with most into members of your family. It seemed fun and harmless, but in reality, it unwittingly turned you into a bot. Oops. Did we learn nothing from the Cambridge Analytica debacle? Apparently not! These are the red flags you need to watch for with third-party apps.
Twitter Family Tree Issues
When users opted to play Twitter Family Tree, they were prompted by the website to sign in to their Twitter account so their results could be shared. This seems innocent enough, but a closer look at what else users were granting the site permission to do raised a ton of red flags. Some of the most concerning issues with permissions granted by users to this “game” were the ability to:
- See accounts you follow, mute, and block.
- Follow and unfollow accounts for you.
- Update your profile and account settings.
- Post and delete Tweets for you, and engage with Tweets posted by others (Like, un-Like, or reply to a Tweet, Retweet, etc.) for you.
- Create, manage, and delete Lists and collections for you.
- Mute, block, and report accounts for you.
At this point, you’ve basically turned your Twitter account over to the app! The app starts following other accounts with your account and then mutes them so you won’t see them in your feed and likely won’t ever notice. Congrats, you’ve unwittingly become a bot!
Proceed with Caution
Not all apps are out to steal your information, but this recent incident is a good reminder to pay attention and watch for scams. Be very careful what permissions you grant to third parties. Always read what they are asking for permission to do before you click “OK”. If any of the permission requests seem excessive or odd, then close the app or site and avoid it. Guard your social media sites as closely as you guard your wallet! While your friends and followers might not have monetary value to you, the ability to acquire real, organic followers is gold to the “bad guys”. Don’t just give your personal information away with the click of a mouse.
Check Your Third-Party Apps Settings
It’s always a good idea to check your social media accounts regularly to double-check which third-party apps have permissions. If you have ever unwittingly given a shady site access to your account, you can quickly undo it and deny access. These are some of the most popular social media accounts and how to check your permissions settings:
- Facebook: Click on settings, then choose “apps”. From here you can remove apps or change permissions.
- Twitter: Go to the “Apps and Sessions” section of your account settings to revoke app access.
- Instagram: Under “Settings” tap on “Security”. Choose “Apps and Websites” to review connected services.
Stay alert and pay attention to the fine print to avoid falling for one of these scams. It’s all fun and games until your friends list is hacked or your account information compromised! While we’re talking about account security, do you know if your website is secure? Our Website Technical Audit will identify your site’s vulnerabilities to keep your online business safe from hackers and other security threats.