Facebook apps sharing millions’ personal details with advertisers

October 19th, 2010 by Staff

Source: National Business Review — Facebook is furiously tightening its privacy controls following a Wall Street Journal special investigation, released today, which found that many apps on the social network are forwarding people’s names and other identifying details – and sometimes the details of their friends – to advertisers, plus data collection companies, who then on-sell the personal information.

The Journal approached Facebook on Sunday (Monday New Zealand time) with evidence of its investigation.

A Facebook spokesman said the site is taking immediate steps to “dramatically limit” the exposure of users’ personal information.

Apps are third-party software, such as the popular game HoldEm Poker, which can be installed and shared, or played, with other Facebook users.

The Journal found that three of the top 10 apps used by Facebook’s half-billion users forward personal information to advertisers.

One of the three is Farmville, played by 59 million Facebookers worldwide, which has made its creator a Forbes Rich List multi-billionaire.

Facebook’s rules prohibit apps like Farmville from sharing information with advertisers or data collection companies.

The Journal said its findings “shed light on the challenge of policing those rules for the 550,000 apps on its site.”

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