Facebook the 🔑 Keeper

“Would you like to login through your Facebook or Twitter account?” I’ll bet that all of you have seen this message before. This question probably pops up for me at least 10 times a week and almost every one of those 10 times I say yes, but as more and more applications, websites and platforms become intertwined through this system whereby Facebook is the universal gatekeeper, I can’t say that I don’t get nervous. When I think back to how I became so willing to hand over my information and secure login responsibilities to Facebook (as some people also do with Twitter), it is entirely based around my exhaustion surrounding new usernames, passwords, and security questions. At the start it was Spotify asking permission and I allowed it wholeheartedly; sharing music with friends by linking to Facebook seemed like a win win, and one shared login was a caveat I could definitely live with. However, I did not realize the domino effect that this would have on my willingness to hand over almost ALL login responsibilities to Facebook, and it was because other social media type accounts require EVERYTHING that Facebook already has and allowing them to use my account would save me from putting in all the bits of personal information and profile pictures.

So here we are, today I have over 25 external apps and or websites that use Facebook as a login stand-in…and I’m not sure how I feel about that number growing. Social Networks are more and more becoming the arbiters of our internet experience rather than just being one of the many sites to visit.

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I am so reliant on Facebook that if I were to swear off the social network’s direct site I would still need them for so much of my everyday electronic life. Signing into the Wall Street Journal, yep; checking out the local concerts with Bandsintown, uh-huh; and logging into wordpress to write this blog…wait, I can’t remember if I used facebook to sign up for WordPress, and that’s part of the problem. I’ve become so dependent on Facebook to take so many of these responsibilities away from me that I am forgetting information from the few times that it is not an option at all; with this function I would say that Facebook has created a new effect, not of switching costs (because who the heck are you gonna switch to, I mean c’mon), but of quitting costs; it is how they get us addicted to them, by making us think we need them. They count on the fact that we won’t want to deal with the fuss and bother of sorting out our online security presence and the fallout that would occur if the services that our personal accounts perform are deactivated. For example, what happens to my Spotify social account once Facebook goes, and so on, like a house of cards.

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All that being said, Facebook has so much to gain from our reliance on them. They know what services we use even if they are siloed from accessing the information from those 3rd party providers. They know when I decided to download twitter, uber, and renew subscriptions and this data alone better helps them target me for ads and use me in order to compile big data about other customers like me. Given the vast breadth of security implications that would arise should any of facebook’s data and own security measures became compromised, it would seem like people’s nerves would be fraying about the lack of control they have…but we don’t, because we don’t want to think about it. It’s much easier to push those thoughts into the corner while we hastily click the login with Facebook or Twitter option and move on with our lives.

This isn’t necessarily a huge impending problem, but as we inevitably continue to grant more and more wide reaching powers to these giants of data collection we should have a more collaborative existence with them which provides clarity in regards to their roles and the information that they are able to glean from us. I for one would prefer some transparency surrounding the information that they gain and choose to use either passively or through shared data with apps and services which they actively manage day in and day out. If these companies are going to act partly as our digital stewards, they should provide more clarity about all the ways which they benefit from our information.

How many of you have given Facebook the keys to your digital kingdom and how many of you are concerned with what they have done and might do with this information? I’m not insinuating any gross misconduct on the part of these tech leaders, just maybe some more gray area use of our data.

7 comments

  1. katherinekorol · ·

    I am definitely guilty of this too…but wow, over 25 apps?! I try to limit the number of times I allow Facebook to bear the login responsibilities to certain apps, but I have definitely gotten lazier. When I first downloaded Spotify, like, three years ago, I was super against doing this. I used my email to login and have actually regretted it ever since because I can almost never remember how to login. I feel like once you login through Facebook once it is a downward spiral and you can’t stop.

    I have noticed that I get extremely creepy ads on Facebook, more so than any other site. I never considered that this was probably due to all of their login permissions to many of my accounts. It concerns me a little bit that they have so much data, but I have developed a sort of trust with this site because it has been around for so many years and nothing bad has happened yet, I guess.

  2. Your description of the cost of quitting Facebook is spot on. I try not to log in to other websites using my Facebook, but I am definitely reliant on them in other ways. Getting notifications of friends birthdays is one benefit that comes to mind (I rely on that feature way too much!). One thing that I’m also big on is logging out of my account after each use. I know that they probably have other ways of getting my search history because, like Kat, I get a lot of creepily-accurate ads on FB, but it still makes me feel a little better!

  3. profgarbusm · ·

    Never thought about the consequences of this, but you know what? Spot on. My facebook is easily linked to every social media I use and I don’t really have second thoughts about it. LinkedIn for me is similar in that I apply for almost every job using it’s preloaded information. It’s so casual and easy I never really thought about it. Great networking effects from a business perspective, but this helped me re-think my ability to abandon social media.

  4. Undoubtedly, Facebook is one giant company, but also giant-er data store company in the world. However, I have seen that Facebook has been dealing with profit issues, as Facebook becoming more aggressive on its Facebook-ads. I would not say Facebook has been the best monetize the data comparing to companies like Google and Amazon I would say. Correct me if I am wrong, but I’m questioning the data quality that third-party login could provide to Facebook. Because, for me, I only use Facebook account to login third-party, not Facebook anymore, or rarely. It would be interesting to see how Facebook could further monetize its enormous amount of data.

  5. This is definitely the key to Facebook’s success (and why I thought Snapchat would ever be a meaningful challenger). They can combine your web traffic with so much information about you that businesses love the amount of insight they provide on customers. Its a hugely powerful marketing engine that is poised to keep growing.

  6. addisonBC2018 · ·

    I totally agree with your hesitation over using Facebook as your password keeper. Not only does it slightly concern me that all my apps are controlled by one log-in, I also can’t help but think of times I’ve left my Facebook open on my friend’s computer or at work. These might seem harmless, the worst damage could be a prank status update, but really I’ve handed over the access to a multitude of apps. I think I handle the situation better by pushing the idea to the back of my mind, when really it is an idea we should all be confronting the reality of!

  7. nescrivag · ·

    I have recently thought about this because I noticed that I had a lot of spam email in my Outlook account I had no idea how all these people/companies had gotten my email address. One time when I was logging into somewhere with Facebook, I clicked on the option that shows you exactly what information the third party is getting from you and it was a lot. Then I realized that all these weird emails that I was getting were probably due to the fact that I give my email out really easily. Even though now I am conscious of the information that is being given away, I still allow because it is so much more convenient to login through Facebook that to create a million accounts with different passwords. Like you, I am also nervous about how the number of apps and websites with access to my information is growing.

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