I see plenty of controversial FB status updates – politics, religion and swearing in no particular order. But what has been bugging me lately? The  little one-liners telling me who is reading what. Because every friend I have contacted so far to give a heads up did not realize it was happening to them. And they didn’t like it much either. Most of us would find it hard to even describe a News Reader App – here is how they show up in your news feed and ticker:

These two did not expect us all to see their veg-out gossip reading



Stop facebook sharing through Washington Post Social ReaderThis one does not expect co-workers to see his political perusings.




Facebook calls it frictionless sharing. I call it friction-generating. People deserve more privacy than all their friends seeing all their political, religious and scandal-sheet reading. They did not click on a like button for us to see this. Having signed up for a news reader App,  they need only click on an article link and we all get to see it in the news ticker. Even an accidental click. They don’t even need to be on Facebook at the time.

Most people barely realized they were signing up for the Apps, let alone the privacy-invasion sharing every article they ever click on – even accidentally. Every time they read a news article online, their activity is automatically shared with friends. Not so nice!

Not all news applications do this: WSJ and New York Times are fine. Yahoo, Washington Post Social Reader and the Guardian are the biggest offenders I am seeing.

You can check if  you have these apps installed:

Click  at the top right of any Facebook page and choose Account Settings.

From the menu in the left column, select Apps.

Remove the App or tighten your privacy settings:

Remove using the ‘x’

‘Edit’.  Click on ‘Custom’ next to ‘App activity privacy’,  then ‘Custom’ again. Set it to ‘Only Me’


If your own Apps are locked down but you are fed up of getting updates on what your friends are reading?

Search for the App and click ‘Block application’ on the left.

If this helped you, please let me know in a comment and please take a conscious decision to share it onwards. If you just love having your every reading displayed to all, I’d also like to hear from you!

18 Responses to “We were told about News Readers, but did we Hear?”

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  6. Jamie says:

    Thanks very much for that. Was constantly amused at some of the articles my friends were reading, never thinking it was happening to me. Just noticed The Independant had signed me up to it’s app without my knowledge…grrr… Used your info to delete it and all other apps.

  7. Hi Abigail – Thank you for posting!

    I have largely surrendered a lot of privacy issues for many reasons – it is a part of transparency that I can make a case for. However! I find the WaPo app irritating as much because – like you – I could NOT read their link without accepting the app! Being forced into an app (and all of its cascade of actions) is what ticked me off.

    It is so good to have this user feedback out there IMO.

    Aloha, Rox

    • Thanks Rox!

      The funny thing was, I backed out of the App, went to Yahoo through my browser and could not find the article… I consider myself a better than average searcher, but it was as if it was only available on Social Reader. But I have to admit I did not put any more time into tracking that to the very end!

      Best Wishes

  8. Brenda Jones says:

    I noticed when they started popping up, wanted to read an article that a friend had just read… and when it launched an app page, I denied it and decided I didn’t need to read the article. I can’t fault the app for people not reading what access it asks for and authorizing it. I’m sure there are news readers out there that aren’t FB apps that are perfectly safe. People authorized this one to have access to their account along with a list of things it says it wants to do, so to be upset by any privacy violations… I’m sorry, but that’s on them for accepting the terms in the first place.

    • Thanks Brenda, Very true , but but but …

      I actually had the exact same experience as you. I saw an item, wanted to read it and just.could.not.agree to what the App was asking me for in signing up. Having ‘noticed’ the Apps, I then saw them time and again over the next couple weeks, and knowing some of my friends as I do know them, I was pretty sure they had not consciously assented to this much information being posted about them.

      As I mentioned to you on FB…. I hesitated to post this because you are right. But it is also correct to say that many people do not see the full implication of what they are committing to at the time. And that is not all their fault… the marketers of the Apps do not put it in terms of “You realize everyone will be able to see everything you read, right? You really get that? OK – go ahead!” I have yet to hear from anyone who says ‘Oh yeah – I knew and I wanted it to do that’. There have been other App characteristics on FB that have been removed after a groundswell of public opinion. IMHO the social readers will be removed or restrained at some point. But not yet. So I am advising people I care about when I see what they consider a private reading being broadcast to all of their Friends list. Maybe as a small part of a new groundswell…

  9. I wondered what all those little things were that kept showing up, now I know. I just thought they were irritating didnt realize what they were. Thank you for bringing that to light. I will utilize this and pass it on.

  10. Whenever I get to an app page and it wants to access my facebook and wants permission, I almost always say NO. Yes, I may want to read an article a friend posted but not if I have to have an app to read it! So I’m probably safe. I have enough stuff to read that I don’t have time for so having a reader to access more is not helping me.

    Julieanne Case
    Always from the heart!

    Reconnecting you to your Original Blueprint, Your Essence, Your Joy| Healing you from the Inside Out |Reconnective Healing | The Reconnection| AgeLoc Skin Care | Pharmanex Supplements


  11. Cory Zacker says:

    Thanks for this Abigail. This particular feature on Facebook annoys me as well! Why should something like that be automatically shared?! I am definitely following your instructions to make sure my settings are the way I want them. Thank you!

  12. Well, it appears that I have no news feed apps, but I’m not sure I want everyone to know when I vote online for the X Factor! Thank you for pointing this out. I had no idea. Such valuable information to get out there. I’ll be sharing this one.

    Susan Berland
    A Picture’s Worth

  13. SO useful, Abigail. I had no idea, but went immediately to my apps page and followed your siggestions. I had a bunch of apps that I didn’t even know were there. I agree with Judy, that for me it is not even that I need to stay all that private with some of this stuff, I just don’t want to be tracked or assessed in that way…

    Thank you for this Very Useful blog!

  14. This was funny because for some reason it came across my feed and it interested me enough to go read. Then, after seeing the comments, I realized that it also was from Blogger Monday which I just happen to be commenting upon this week. How fortuitous!

    You have hit a button with me. One of the few things I really don’t like in FB is posting things about what I do without my approval- especially if I don’t know they are doing it! And this was one of the examples. Thanks so much as I have gone in and adjusted my settings accordingly. Although I must admit that it was fun to catch people reading stuff which sort of blows their on-line personalities! But, I certainly didn’t want that to happen to me… (so what if I want to read about Justin Beiber and who he got pregnant…)

    Candace Davenport
    http://www.ourlittlebooks.com ~ Little Books with a Big Message

  15. This was so interesting to me that I read it out of order on the Blogger Monday list! I promptly went to my FB page and adjusted the settings. Thank you so much for alerting us to this–you are so right…I don’t think I spend lots of time on junk reading/viewing, but I do want it to be private. In general I have moved towards wanting more and more control over privacy, not because I can pinpoint how the sharing would be a problem but just because it’s a little creepy to think about so much information being passed around.

    Judy Stone-Goldman
    The Reflective Writer
    Personal-Professional Balance Through Writing

  16. Donna McCord says:

    I appreciate you bringing this to my attention! I wondered about those posts telling me who is reading what…to be honest, I have not even been paying any attention to them as I really am not interested in knowing all that! but I wondered why those things were being shared in the first place…I thought the person doing the reading was sharing because they wanted to. I will definitely follow your instructions and remove this application! and I will share this post, too. Thanks again!

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