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Sunday, May 23, 2010

Facebook Caught Sharing Your Private Data with Advertisers

Posted by @ 7:00 pm

facebooklockPrivacy is always a concern when you are spending time on the internet. Facebook is one company who has landed itself in some hot water over privacy of late and it has just gotten worse.

The Wall Street Journal has reported that Facebook (and a number of other social-networking sites) have been sharing users’ personal data with advertisers. The problem is that this data is being shared without the users’ knowledge or consent.

The issue was first raised back in August last year by researchers from Worcester Polytechnic Institute and AT&T Labs, but Facebook chose to ignore their concerns. That is until the Wall Street Journal stepped in, and then the site’s stopped sharing the data.

Here is what Facebook had to say to the Wall Street Journal about the issue:

We were recently made aware of one case where if a user takes a specific route on the site, advertisers may see that they clicked on their own profile and then clicked on an ad. We fixed this case as soon as we heard about it.

The information included usernames and ID numbers that could be traced back to individual profiles. Large advertising companies including Google’s DoubleClick and Yahoo’s Right Media were identified as having received the information although they claim to have not made use of it.

The information could be used to look up individual profiles, which, depending on the site and the information a user has made public, include such things as a person’s real name, age, hometown and occupation.

This is definitely bad timing for Facebook. There has been quite a revolt of late with many users closing down their accounts in protest over Facebook’s lax privacy laws.

Will this news cause you to think twice about clicking on Facebook ads?

Courtney Mills Courtney is an online marketing and communications specialist at ineedhits - a leading search engine marketing firm with over 16 years experience. Courtney has been living and breathing online marketing for over 5 years. She specializes in web and communication marketing, while providing news and opinion to online marketing communities.

View Courtney Mills's profile

Discussion (8 - comments)

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by ineedhits, MarketingFlash. MarketingFlash said: Facebook Caught Sharing Your Private Data with Advertisers – Privacy is always a concern when you are spending time… [...]

By Tweets that mention Facebook Caught Sharing Your Private Data with Advertisers | ineedhits -- - May 23, 2010

I’m a new user to Facebook but now with this info I’m not giong to continue using it until I’ve got verification that they have fixed this issue and guarantee the privacy of the individules that use the service. If I’ve got stuff as private then that’s how I want it to remain, PRIVATE.

By Vangie - May 25, 2010

I am not a Facebook user, but they still manage to invade my privacy! I get “invitations” to join Facebook, and there is a growing list of “Other people you may know on Facebook.” Some of these are people I haven’t been in touch with for years! How does Facebook know I know them? I find that very creepy. I will not join Facebook, and I want to find out how to get them to stop pulling my e-mail address from other people’s lists without my permission.

By Lori - May 25, 2010

Facebook, to their credit, did fix this immediately. And few users had their privacy invaded.

By Dennis Yu - May 26, 2010

I’m not much aware about these information that facebook and other Web site sharing users personal data with advertisers without users knowledge or consent. I think this is a big issue invaded our own privacy because as a users you have your own right to know everything regardless to your own personal data. This is a clear example of unethical behavior because as one of the most popular Wed site you must set as a good example to everyone and maintain your integrity to reach the highest goal.
Most Filipino is still patronizing on using facebook regardless of the big treat that raises system social network regardless on privacy issue.Because they believe that it might not happened if you as a person aware of this kind of transaction happened in some of the Web site especially on facebook.Some of the other reason is because mostly people just think for the entertainment give by the facebook without knowing that they invaded our privacy.

By Era Losentales - August 6, 2010

All of the little apps that are running on facebook are not on my click list.
Facebook is the medium, allowing these third party apps who are paying to access your personal information.
AND these poarties are not using it for emails, they are compiling profiles for a political grip and their cooperation to the greed machine.
The concept for people to in contact is great, but the invasion, collection, and sharing of personal info is wrong.

By Joe - September 23, 2010

I deactivated my Facebook account on Monday night 10/18/10, after hearing from a friend that the founder/creator of the site was planning to sell our private information at some time in the future to make his money.

Rather than get caught up in this “Social Networking” trend, I plan on staying out of the sites, and recommend that everyone pay close attention to EVERTHING they put in the Internet because there are a lot of negative people and scams in this world!

I’ve received email messages from many people in various parts of the United States, and other countries in the world. After watching me on the television show Extreme Makeover Home Edition, these people “searched” my name on Facebook, and sent me “friend requests” with very kind messages. Some I communicated with, but most of them I disregarded. I truly appreciate their kind words, but I don’t think I’ll need friends in Uruguay, Canada, Africa, or Scotland.

Some TV stations make good money and earn good reviews with reality shows like mine, and my family has been lucky enough to be the recipients of a wonderful house as a result. We can’t begin to thank everyone involved with this process, and each day we strive toward, and hope for my recuperation to continue as quickly as possible.

Thank you Facebook for opening my eyes to scams on the Internet. I hope your founder is happy with himself and realizes that he can’t always get what he wants!

Best always,

By Paul Giunta - October 19, 2010

Here is a similar story

It might be purely coincidental that the day after CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook page seemed to have been hacked, Facebook announced this morning that it has taken steps to make Facebook more secure for its users. In a blog post, security engineer Alex Rice writes that Facebook users — which now number more than 600 million — can choose to enable HTTPS, which means viewing encrypted pages on the social networking site. In addition, Facebook is rolling out what it’s calling social authentication, or captchas based on identifying your friends by their pictures. (Good luck remembering which of your friends is using Strawberry Shortcake as her profile photo this week.)

By Patent Application - January 28, 2011

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