Facebook Accused Of User ID Privacy Breach

Small slip shared already-public info

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[ Social Media]

On the heels of its big announcement with Bing, there’s bad news for Facebook.  The social network has been linked to an alleged "privacy breach," and plenty of people are concerned about it, although there’s reason to believe the matter isn’t a big deal.

The problem, which was discovered by Emily Steel and Jeffrey A. Fowler: many of Facebook’s most popular apps (including games made by Zynga and LOLapps) transmitted User IDs to advertisers.  Advertisers could then determine the names of an app’s users, along with any info they’d made available to "everyone."

This has led to a number of discussions about leaks, breaches, and even the sale of private data.  Plus, it’s not just bloggers doing the talking; mainstream news shows are covering the topic this morning.

The fact that "everyone" might include a few advertisers shouldn’t come as a shock, however, and it looks like most apps’ developers weren’t sharing UIDs on purpose.

A post on the Facebook Developer Blog explained, "In most cases, developers did not intend to pass this information, but did so because of the technical details of how browsers work."  (More information on "referers" is available here.)

Later, the post promised, "Nevertheless, we are committed to ensuring that even the inadvertent passing of UIDs is prevented and all applications are in compliance with our policy."

Facebook Accused Of User ID Privacy Breach
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  • Guest

    I just heard that the “inadvertant passing of UIDs” included setting UIDs in cookies for tracking movement elsewhere on the web. That’s no accident.

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