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Report: Facebook apps transmitted personal info

By Associated Press
Monday, October 18, 2010 8:14 EDT
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Newspaper report: Facebook apps transmitted personal information to tracking companies

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 (link).

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. Wrote The Journal:

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.

“A Facebook user ID may be inadvertently shared by a user’s Internet browser or by an application,” a Facebook spokesman told the paper. Such knowledge “does not permit access to anyone’s private information on Facebook.”

“Our technical systems have always been complemented by strong policy enforcement, and we will continue to rely on both to keep people in control of their information,” the Facebook official added.

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.

Most apps are made by independent software companies, not by Facebook.

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Information from: The Wall Street Journal, http://online.wsj.com

(This version CORRECTS short headline to remove ‘dozens.’ This story is part of AP’s general news and financial services.)

Source: AP News

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