Facebook Apps Leak Private Info to Advertisers
Many Facebook apps, including the wildly popular FarmVille, leak personal data to third-party advertisers and Internet tracking firms, the Wall Street Journal reports.
The list of breached apps includes Texas HoldEm Poker, "Mafia Wars," FrontierVille, and FarmVille, the last of which has about 50 million users. All of the top 10 most popular apps were found to be sharing personal data with outside sources.
There are 550,000 apps on Facebook, and 70 percent of those with Facebook profiles use apps each month, the report said.
Facebook addressed the privacy leak in an Oct. 17 blog post written by developer Mike Vernal. He explained that the issue is directly related to Facebook's application programming interface (API), a technology that enables interaction between different software programs, including those used in developing apps.
Recently, it has come to our attention that several applications built on Facebook Platform were passing the User ID (UID), an identifier that we use within our APIs, in a manner that violated this policy, wrote Vernal. In most cases, developers did not intend to pass this information, but did so because of the technical details of how browsers work."
Vernal said the press has exaggerated the implications of sharing a UID. Knowledge of a UID does not enable anyone to access private user information without explicit user consent. Nevertheless, we are committed to ensuring that even the inadvertent passing of UIDs is prevented and all applications are in compliance with our policy.
Vernal said the company would introduce a new technology soon to combat the privacy breach.
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