September 27, 2012, 11:43 AM — Want to know what evil things those Facebook apps are up to? Secure.me has the answer. The security company’s free App Advisor browser plug in gives you the 411 on more than 500,000 Facebook and Chrome apps, rating them for how much data they collect and what they do with that data, as well as what users think of them.
Just install the extension into Chrome, Safari, or Firefox. When you install an app in Facebook – or the first time you launch it -- App Advisor slides down from the top of the browser window and gives you a quick summary of how good, bad, or ugly that app is, based on these ratings.
Click the View Details link to launch a new browser page listing what data that app collects and what happens to it. You can even submit your own capsule review of each app, though where those things end up is a mystery to me. You can also search the apps.secure.me site by app to pull up ratings.
Words With Friends, for example, is rated Medium. It gets low marks for Permissions because it asks for six pieces of data, including your email address. It gets mediocre ratings for App Behavior because it nags your friends to install it after you do. But users enjoy playing it and rate it 4.3 stars out of 5, which raises its overall score to average.
Groupon, on the other hand, is rated Poor. It wants 12 pieces of data when you install it, including your location, checkins, and birthday. After install it sends email, posts on your wall, and on your friends’ walls. And though like WWF it gets a 4.3 score from users, that’s not enough to offset its data gluttony.
Pinterest has a “Very High” reputation (which makes no grammatical sense, but Secure.me is a German company, and its command of English isn’t always on target). Why? It collects a minimal amount of information and people love it, for reasons that escape me.