Today, we are dependent on all sorts of applications and websites. One such example is the all-famous Instagram app; perfect for eternalising all those glorious moments in our glorious lives by sharing them with our ever-growing number of followers. You know that feeling when life feels like it’s at a complete standstill after you’ve posted a new picture through your account and no one seems to be online because no “likes” are trickling in? You start to make up excuses in your mind – people are stuck in traffic, are still asleep or probably just crazy busy at work because there can be no explanation as to why those little hearts haven’t been coloured red yet. A couple of hours pass by and still not a peep. You decide to remove the ill-fated picture and pretend it never existed because you can’t stand the awkward feeling of not garnering attention from a single person, not even that borderline stalker friend who likes and comments on all of your pictures. Such is the power of social media websites and the applications which accompany them in our lives today.

Because there is such a vast amount of websites and apps in the recent years, a simpler way of signing up for accounts has been identified and put to use. The good news is that we are now given the option of logging into websites using Facebook as a more convenient means to avoid managing multiple login IDs and passwords and let’s be honest — most of us prefer signing in through Facebook because honestly, filling in forms and going through the hassle of registering for a new account can be a real pain.

The main downside of Facebook logins means that we are giving away a lot of our personal information for an indefinite amount of time — for instance, the list of friends on our Facebook account along with our likes and dislikes to websites which may not be entirely secure.

According to Jane Blume, a management consultant and owner of Desert Sky Communications, a PR firm in New Mexico, logging in via Facebook poses too much of an identity-theft risk.

“It gives the website access not only to my personal information, but to information about everyone I’m connected to. I don’t want their privacy invaded without their consent. I work very hard to protect myself from identity theft,” Blume said.

A lot of us are more open to using third-party logons namely, Matthew White, chief executive officer of mobile-app developer at Whitepoint Inc. in Georgia, U.S., but would still advise people to be alert and careful.

“As a user, Facebook sign-in integration is incredibly convenient for developers building new products. But many users are becoming increasingly wary of how the information is being used, who else accesses that information and what impact — if any — it has on their friends’ information.

While it might appear to be more convenient to gain access to programs or applications by logging in through Facebook, this can only mean that we volunteer our personal information to third-party websites and even if the apps are eventually uninstalled from our devices, it doesn’t change the fact that our information is stored in servers far, far away in lands unbeknownst to us. Developers of these apps and programs study and store our personal information and preferences so that they can specifically design the right product based on the preferences of their targeted market in the future. It also greatly helps them in product marketing so its not surprising that the ads shown on your internet browser varies largely from what would be displayed on your 45-year old uncle’s.

At the end of the day, the question we should ask ourselves is: Where should we draw the line between convenience and personal data safety?

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