Parks Associates Blog

Friday, November 05, 2010

Facebook developers exiled for selling user IDs to brokers

Facebook is taking action against developers who flouted company rules by selling unique user IDs to a data broker.The unnamed developers, which numbered fewer than 12, won't have access to Facebook communication channels for six months, Facebook platform engineer Mike Vernal said on Friday. They also will be required to submit their data practices to a third-party auditor to confirm they comply with Facebook policies.

The action comes after the WSJ caught Facebook transmitting the user IDs of those playing some of the site's most popular games to dozens of advertising and Internet tracking companies. The disclosure came even as Facebook's terms of service promised that personally identifiable information would never be sold to advertisers or data brokers.

The allegations are now part of a federal lawsuit filed against Zynga, developer of some of the social network's most popular apps. The complaint claims Zynga collected and shared the IDs of 218 million users. Zynga has said the complaint is without merit. A similar lawsuit has been filed against Facebook.

The user IDs by themselves don't reveal personal information, but when combined with other information, they could jeopardize user privacy, critics contend. Facebook recently introduced plans to encrypt user IDs to prevent inadvertent sharing. So-called parameter encryption could make it harder for data brokers, intelligence agencies and other snoops to track the activities of Facebook users.

For the complete article, please click here.

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