How-To Geek

Facebook Has Yet Another Privacy Breach, Nobody’s Surprised

The Wall Street Journal reports that there’s yet another breach in privacy over at Facebook, and this time it’s games like FarmVille leaking your information to advertisers.

The problem is that these applications and games are taking your unique “ID”, and in some cases the unique IDs of your friends, and sharing them with advertisers, who can use them to help build their profiles on everybody, so they can serve targeted ads.

The issue affects tens of millions of Facebook app users, including people who set their profiles to Facebook’s strictest privacy settings. The practice breaks Facebook’s rules, and renews questions about its ability to keep identifiable information about its users’ activities secure.

The problem affects some of the largest and most popular applications, like:

The apps, ranked by research company Inside Network Inc. (based on monthly users), include Zynga Game Network Inc.’s FarmVille, with 59 million users, and Texas HoldEm Poker and FrontierVille. Three of the top 10 apps, including FarmVille, also have been transmitting personal information about a user’s friends to outside companies.

The real problem here is that even if you’re not using one of these applications, if one of your friends is using it, they are still capturing your ID and sharing it with advertisers, a clear violation of Facebook terms of use.

Facebook’s response to the WSJ story: “We have taken immediate action to disable all applications that violate our terms”.

Facebook in Online Privacy Breach; Applications Transmitting Identifying Information [WSJ]

Lowell Heddings, better known online as the How-To Geek, spends all his free time bringing you fresh geekery on a daily basis. You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 10/18/10

Comments (6)

  1. iller

    well frontierville is still up.. i wonder why :P

  2. Kevalin

    “The practice… renews questions about [Facebook’s] ability to keep identifiable information about it’s users’ activities secure.“

    …To say nothing of their willingness. People keep assuming that these breaches are accidental, and my question is, “WHY?” Newsflash, children: Facebook is a BUSINESS that makes the vast bulk of its money from allowing advertisers to try to sell you stuff. These breaches are about as accidental as a hired killer sticking a gun to your head and pulling the trigger. Facebook violates (or lets others violate) its own terms of service–then apologizes all the way to the bank.

    And the sheep bleat about it for awhile, then go right back to eating what they feed them. It’s a match made in Heaven.

  3. tek9

    Facebook has ads? Huh…go figure..yay for ABP!

  4. HeartBreaka009

    Should we stop playing those games?

  5. Kevin

    It is not a security breach it is a business just like Kevalin said. They did not make 800 million dollars last year by handing out free accounts.

  6. Santo

    I use Firefox with Add Block Plus (ABP) add-on. So, I don’t see any advertisements in any websites including FB.

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