Massive Facebook Privacy Breach

Facebook logoJournalists Emily Steel and Geoffrey A. Fowler engage in the lost art of investigating malfeasance by large corporations, for the Wall Street Journal:

Many of the most popular applications, or “apps,” on the social-networking site Facebook Inc. have been transmitting identifying information—in effect, providing access to people’s names and, in some cases, their friends’ names—to dozens of advertising and Internet tracking companies, a Wall Street Journal investigation has found.

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 has ties to the growing field of companies that build detailed databases on people in order to track them online—a practice the Journal has been examining in its What They Know series. It’s unclear how long the breach was in place. On Sunday, a Facebook spokesman said it is taking steps to “dramatically limit” the exposure of users’ personal information.

“A Facebook user ID may be inadvertently shared by a user’s Internet browser or by an application,” the spokesman said. Knowledge of an ID “does not permit access to anyone’s private information on Facebook,” he said, adding that the company would introduce new technology to contain the problem identified by the Journal.

“Our technical systems have always been complemented by strong policy enforcement, and we will continue to rely on both to keep people in control of their information,” the Facebook official said.

“Apps” are pieces of software that let Facebook’s 500 million users play games or share common interests with one another. The Journal found that all of the 10 most popular apps on Facebook were transmitting users’ IDs to outside companies.

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…

[continues in the Wall Street Journal]

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  • 5by5

    I seriously don’t get it. Why the fuck does anybody use Facebook? Are you so needy that you have to achieve some weird “status” of having 100+ acquaintances who don’t give a shit about you anyways? It’s not REAL. Real relationships are out in the world. Friends help you move. Real friends help you move the bodies.

    • Simiantongue

      The purpose of sites like facebook and youtube is to monetize peoples relationships and social interaction. Many people, most especially in western capitalist cultures, internalize ideological values of capitalism as a major player in social dynamic. Contrary to the impression given by finance books, capitalization isn’t a mere technical formula. Every component of an internalized capitalization value system, be it earnings, hype, risk or the normal rate of returns are driven and shaped by power relations. People are hence incentivised when they internalize the ideology of capitalism as an ideological framework to socially “network” thus increasing their potential. Internalized capitalization is somewhat different than more commonly understood absolute capitalization of finance. Social capitalization is differential capitalization driven and shaped by power relations.

      Basically with the advent of electronic communication, IE the internet and then facebook, someone has figured a way to exploit and capitalize on an inexhaustible resource namely human social interaction. Said social interaction itself inherently driven by the same capitalistic ideology. The oligarchical structure is even kept intact. Where the owner of facebook being the owners and proprietors of the capitalist Bourgs who predominately profit by this. With an accompanying pittance of reward for those like minded masses who participate and allow them to do so.

      This type of ideological system is actually quite old. There is hardly any opposition to its ideological establishment now. The last time it was challenged was sometime about the seventeenth century with religious opposition to usury, which was becoming conventional practice among bankers and much of the populace by that time and posed something of a ideological challenge to the church for the “hearts and minds” of the larger populace. Take the catholic church for example. Which was usually a focus for social interaction and found influence in peoples lives in dictating how those social interactions were conducted. The social ideological dictates of the faith based on an authoritarian power structure which were based predominately in promises of reward which didn’t really have to be followed through on. If you worship with us there are rewards everlasting. These were challenged by capitalism…

      You know I have a very short attention span and I just lost interest in this, so i’ll leave it at that.

      • Andrew

        I thought capitalization is what happens when you hit the shift key.

        Sorry.

    • Surrealias

      It’s a convenient way to keep in touch with friends and acquaintences, that’s why I use it. Creepy as all hell I admit, but people use it for the same reason they use a phone instead of writing a letter to send it across seas.

      “Real relationships are out in the world. Friends help you move. Real friends help you move the bodies.” hahaha, gold!

  • Anonymous

    I seriously don’t get it. Why the fuck does anybody use Facebook? Are you so needy that you have to achieve some weird “status” of having 100+ acquaintances who don’t give a shit about you anyways? It’s not REAL. Real relationships are out in the world. Friends help you move. Real friends help you move the bodies.

  • oman28

    I’m amazed that these ‘companies’ are even interested in people who spend hours on facebook playing farmville

    • Ironaddict06

      I understand what you mean, but these companies are interested in these people because they are potential customers. What I don’t get is why do millions of people think that Facebook and other social networks are free? These companies aren’t worth millions or billions of $$$ for providing a free product.

  • Anonymous

    I’m amazed that these ‘companies’ are even interested in people who spend hours on facebook playing farmville

  • Ironaddict06

    I understand what you mean, but these companies are interested in these people because they are potential customers. What I don’t get is why do millions of people think that Facebook and other social networks are free? These companies aren’t worth millions or billions of $$$ for providing a free product.

  • Simiantongue

    The purpose of sites like facebook and youtube is to monetize peoples relationships and social interaction. Many people, most especially in western capitalist cultures, internalize ideological values of capitalism as a major player in social dynamic. Contrary to the impression given by finance books, capitalization isn’t a mere technical formula. Every component of an internalized capitalization value system, be it earnings, hype, risk or the normal rate of returns are driven and shaped by power relations. People are hence incentivised when they internalize the ideology of capitalism as an ideological framework to socially “network” thus increasing their potential. Internalized capitalization is somewhat different than more commonly understood absolute capitalization of finance. Social capitalization is differential capitalization driven and shaped by power relations.

    Basically with the advent of electronic communication, IE the internet and then facebook, someone has figured a way to exploit and capitalize on an inexhaustible resource namely human social interaction. Said social interaction itself inherently driven by the same capitalistic ideology. The oligarchical structure is even kept intact. Where the owner of facebook being the owners and proprietors of the capitalist Bourgs who predominately profit by this. With an accompanying pittance of reward for those like minded masses who participate and allow them to do so.

    This type of ideological system is actually quite old. There is hardly any opposition to its ideological establishment now. The last time it was challenged was sometime about the seventeenth century with religious opposition to usury, which was becoming conventional practice among bankers and much of the populace by that time and posed something of a ideological challenge to the church for the “hearts and minds” of the larger populace. Take the catholic church for example. Which was usually a focus for social interaction and found influence in peoples lives in dictating how those social interactions were conducted. The social ideological dictates of the faith based on an authoritarian power structure which were based predominately in promises of reward which didn’t really have to be followed through on. If you worship with us there are rewards everlasting. These were challenged by capitalism…

    You know I have a very short attention span and I just lost interest in this, so i’ll leave it at that.

  • Andrew

    I thought capitalization is what happens when you hit the shift key.

    Sorry.

  • Surrealias

    It’s a convenient way to keep in touch with friends and acquaintences, that’s why I use it. Creepy as all hell I admit, but people use it for the same reason they use a phone instead of writing a letter to send it across seas.

    “Real relationships are out in the world. Friends help you move. Real friends help you move the bodies.” hahaha, gold!

  • Swami

    good. slow down the human cataloging.
    remember/learn a bit of history.

  • Swami

    good. slow down the human cataloging.
    remember/learn a bit of history.

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