POSTED: Monday, January 14, 2013 - 5:00am
UPDATED: Monday, January 14, 2013 - 5:04am
CNN — Relax. Those "My Birthday Calendar" requests on Facebook might be annoying, but they're not dangerous.
A warning that's gone viral on Facebook, as these things tend to do, claims that the app is malware that accesses your data and spams all of your friends.
But a top Web security firm says that's not the case.
"It appears that the warnings are causing much more traffic and wasting more time than the supposedly aggressive Facebook application," Graham Cluley, of Web security firm Sophos, wrote in a blog post Friday.
The cut-and-paste warning, with all the requisite spelling and punctuation errors, has usually been some variation of this:
"WARNING: URGENT! People are getting inquiries allegedly linked to a program called "my birthday calendar". "My birthday calendar" is a malicious application to retrieve data from all profiles. It's very aggressive, just a click makes it starts sending requests to all your friends/contacts. If a request comes from me just ignore it; NOTE please copy and warn your friends"
Cluley says that Sophos has checked out the app and that "it would be appropriate to classify this chain letter as a hoax warning."
Snopes, the longtime home base for debunking Internet shenanigans, has also cleared the app of any wrongoing. The phony viral warning circulated once before in December 2011, according to Snopes.
That said, Cluley wrote that the false warning is a good reminder that legitimate Facebook apps can, in fact, access some of your data if you give them permission. If you're not comfortable with one, don't approve it.
And even if you're careful, apps your friends install can sometimes access information about you, too -- at least as much as those friends can see about you.
To crack down on how much apps can access, Sophos advises Facebook users to visit their App Settings page and uncheck the boxes beside information they don't want shared.