Facebook's latest privacy leak: Who's the villain?

The Wall Street Journal says popular third-party apps such as FarmVille have revealed information about Facebook users to advertisers

Some popular Facebook applications may be to blame for the social networking site's latest privacy breach.
(Image credit: CC BY: tarikgore1)

In the latest privacy scandal to rattle Facebook, the social networking site has acknowledged that some of its most popular applications, including the FarmVille game, have made personal information available to advertisers and internet tracking companies. A Wall Street Journal investigation found that tens of millions of people were affected, including those who used Facebook's strictest privacy settings. The glitch was caused by independent developers who created the apps — not by Facebook itself, which issued a stern warning against sharing information with outsiders. Is Facebook still responsible? (Watch a PBS report about the security breach)

This proves Facebook does not care about your privacy: Facebook has had ample opportunity to plug its privacy leaks, says Frank Reed at Marketing Pilgrim. The company says it wants to protect users, but over and over it gets caught with its hand "in the privacy cookie jar." Saying "we didn't mean it" just doesn't cut it. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg seems like a "nice guy," but he has a "black heart" when it comes to privacy concerns.

"Is Facebook privacy just an oxymoron?"

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Blame FarmVille, not Facebook: In this case, Facebook isn't the villain, says Sam Diaz at ZDNet. It was Zynga, the company behind FarmVille, and the developers of other apps that let users' ID numbers slip into the hands of advertisers. Still, if Facebook wants to start rebuilding the frayed trust of its users, it will have to start doing a better job of "policing" its ever-expanding online platform so users will know it's a "safe place."

"WSJ: Farmville, Facebook apps share names with advertisers, web trackers"

This so-called scandal is no big deal: Facebook users have grown touchy about their personal information, says Mathew Ingram at GigaOm, but they don't have much to worry about here. "The reality is that passing on user ID numbers and even public profile information isn’t really a 'privacy breach.'" The app creators have plugged the leaks — or been shut down by Facebook — and any information that did reach advertisers "is information that users have chosen to make public already."

"Facebook apps send user info — should you care?"

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