Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Facebook apps transmitting users, friends data

Facebook apps are broadcasting user data. That's against Facebooks privacy policy. Worse, at least some of the apps are also broadcasting the users friends data. Emily Steel and Geoffrey A. Fowler of the Wall Street Journal reported that tens of millions of users are affected, even if they have their privacy settings set to the strictest privacy Facebook allows.


A short while later Mr. Fowler reported that this "breach" is severe enough the co-chairs of the House Bipartisan Privacy Caucus, Representatives Edward Markey (D, Mass) and Joe Barton (R, Texas) sent Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg a letter of concern.


This isn't a new issue. There have been similar problems found with Facebook in the past. The problem is that Facebook - and a host of other companies - have a business models that require gathering and analyzing user data. The more data they can gather, the better the information they can sell to other parties.


It wasn't just names that were gathered. Facebook ID numbers were gathered. Then they were either sold to other companies or put in cookies for tracking. Of course, all of the companies involved say they didn't store, collect or use any of this information


I have a Facebook account for the purpose of seeing the changes they make to their privacy settings and policies. I had thought about breaking down and actually using it. But until Facebook gives me actual control over my information, it's not happening. When my friends can involuntarily give up my information, that's more than a problem, that's criminal.