Facebook is in the hotseat Monday following a report by the Wall Street Journal that Facebook applications "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."
The privacy breach, which involved the sharing of users' unique Facebook IDs, may have affected tens of millions of Facebook app users and is in violation of Facebook's policies. The apps found to be sharing users' personal information include FarmVille, Texas HoldEm, Mafia Wars, and more. (See them here)
Facebook issue a statement in response to the allegations saying that "press reports have exaggerated the implications of sharing a UID [or Facebook ID]" and noting that "In most cases, developers did not intend to pass this information, but did so because of the technical details of how browsers work."
Although Facebook says it is "committed to addressing" this issue and temporarily disabled some of the apps that were in violation of its policies, there are some privacy settings you should know in order to keep your information secure. See 3 key tips for protecting your privacy in the slideshow below. Got other suggestions? Let us know in the comments below. Read more about the privacy breach here.
With just a few clicks, you can adjust what information from your Facebook account applications can access, as well as control what kind of interaction the apps can have with you. Want to keep an app from posting on your Facebook Wall? Or stop an app from accessing your data even when you're not using the app? Here's how: Log in to Facebook, then go to Account (top right) > Privacy Settings > Applications and Websites (Bottom right) > "Edit Settings" under "Applications You Use" > then click "Edit Settings" to adjust each app. Some information (such as the ability to send you an email, access your basic information, as well as your profile information) may be required, whereas other settings are optional and you can remove the app's ability to contact your or access certain information.
Here's how you can turn off some of your apps completely: Log in to Facebook, then go to Account (top right) > Privacy Settings > "Edit your settings" under "Applications and Websites" (Bottom right). You can either "Remove unwanted or spammy applications" (which allows you to remove apps individually) or "Turn off all platform applications." As All Facebook notes, this option makes it possible for users to "block all forms of app-to-user communication."
In its article on the Facebook privacy breach, the Wall Street Journal reported that apps had been sharing personal information about the users of apps, but also that "three of the top 10 apps, including FarmVille, also have been transmitting personal information about a user's friends to outside companies." To control what information your friends can share about you, go to Account > Privacy Settings > "Edit your settings" under "Applications and Websites" (Bottom right) > "Edit Settings" under "Info accessible through your friends." As Facebook explains, here you can control " which of your information is available to applications, games and websites when your friends use them." Unless you completely turn of Facebook's platform applications, there is some information about you that will be available to friends' applications. This includes, "your name, profile picture, gender, networks and user ID (along with any other information you've set to everyone)," Facebook discloses.