October 21, 2010

Facebook Privacy Issues

The Wall Street Journal ran a disturbing article that provided details about an investigation that they ran on Facebook regarding privacy issues. Take a look at this:

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 Journal ties this into companies that are building databases that track user activities online. The article says that 10 of the most popular apps on Facebook were transmitting user ID information to other companies. One of the bigger names that was listed was Zynga, the maker of Farmville,Texas HoldEm Poker and FrontierVille.

Good old Zynga whose CEO Mark Pincus says "I Did Every Horrible Thing In The Book To Just Get Revenue Right Away." (Hat tip to Jessica Gottlieb for the video below)



His behavior is shameful and reprehensible. He talks about controlling his destiny as if that justifies his bad behavior. It reminds me of the discussion my son and I had following his soccer game last week. To recap, we were short one referee so the father of one of the players on the other team stepped in and did his best to ensure that his son's team could not lose the game.

Needless to say my son and his teammates were irate as were the parents. I am a hard nosed competitor and out on the field I do my best to give you all that you can handle but I don't want to win at any cost. And I don't want my children to be taught that it is ok to employ a Machiavellian strategy in life either.

Zynga is rightfully being sued for their actions here as is Facebook.
Lawsuits in California and Rhode Island are taking aim at Facebook and its largest application maker, Zynga, alleging that they violated federal law by sending identifying information about their users to advertisers and Internet tracking companies.
The lesson/reminder here is that it is important to pay attention and monitor the services and sites that you use online.

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