Facebook Privacy Breach: Users' Info Leaked To Advertising, Tracking Firms (REPORT)
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(AP/HUFFINGTON POST) NEW YORK -- The Wall Street Journal is reporting that 10 popular Facebook applications have been transmitting users' personal identifying information to dozens of advertising and Internet tracking companies.
The newspaper said Monday that the breach also includes users who set all their information to be completely private. And in some cases, it says, the apps provided access to friends' names (See 3 Facebook privacy settings you need know now).
The Journal wrote:
The information being transmitted is one of Facebook's basic building blocks: the unique "Facebook ID" number assigned to every user on the site. Since a Facebook user ID is a public part of any Facebook profile, anyone can use an ID number to look up a person's name, using a standard Web browser, even if that person has set all of his or her Facebook information to be private. For other users, the Facebook ID reveals information they have set to share with "everyone," including age, residence, occupation and photos.
The apps reviewed by the Journal were sending Facebook ID numbers to at least 25 advertising and data firms, several of which build profiles of Internet users by tracking their online activities.
A Facebook spokesman told the Journal on Sunday that the company would introduce new technology to contain the breach. It's not clear how long the breach went on.
The paper says Facebook also has taken immediate action to disable all applications that violated their terms.
Noting that "press reports have exaggerated the implications of sharing a UID," Facebook said a statement,
Recently, it has come to our attention that several applications built on Facebook Platform were passing the User ID (UID), an identifier that we use within our APIs, in a manner that violated this policy. In most cases, developers did not intend to pass this information, but did so because of the technical details of how browsers work. [...] We have experience addressing this sort of issue previously, although the technical challenges here are greater. We are talking with our key partners and the broader Web community about possible solutions. We will have more details over the course of the next few days.
See ten of the apps that were found to be sharing users' IDs in the slideshow below. Check out our 3 tips for protecting your privacy on Facebook.