Facebook apps under fire over data leak

18 Oct 2010

Many popular applications on Facebook have been transmitting user IDs to dozens of advertising and internet-tracking companies, a report suggests.

The Wall Street Journal has found that this happens even when users have set their profile to the strictest of privacy settings.

All of the 10 most popular Facebook apps, including FarmVille, Texas HoldEm Poker and FrontierVille, were found to be guilty of giving away users’ information to at least 25 third parties, such as internet research and advertising companies.

These companies build profiles of internet users by tracking their online activities.

Depending on a user’s privacy settings, knowledge of the ID of a user who shares information with “Everyone” can give someone access to their name, phone number, email and other personal information.

Even with the strictest privacy setting, the ID can unveil the user’s name and Facebook friends.

While this practice breaks the rules of the social networking site, it has put Facebook under fire yet again over issues in regards to privacy.

“A Facebook user ID may be inadvertently shared by a user’s internet browser or by an application,” a Facebook spokesman said.

Knowledge of an ID “does not permit access to anyone’s private information on Facebook,” he said.

“In most cases, developers did not intend to pass this information, but did so because of the technical details of how browsers work,” said the spokesman.

The spokesman pointed out that the company would introduce new technology to combat the issue.