Monday, October 18, 2010

Facebook does it again

Yet again, Facebook is in the news. It has come to light that, regardless of how stringently you set your so-called "privacy" settings in Facebook, there are a number of associated apps that ignore this, and divulge personally identifiable information about you to their "trusted partners." What's worse, not only about you, but also information about your Facebook "friends." One of these apps, Farmville, has almost 60 million users (yes, 60,000,000!), and it seems they are one of the worst offenders.

Here's what happens: Every user of Facebook has a unique ID. Anyone, you included, can look up an individual's profile using this ID, thus divulging (at least) the name, along with anything else the person may have chosen to include. Apps like Farmville use this ID - as well as those of your "friends" - to pass this info on to data mining companies. So, even if you, personally, have chosen not to get involved, there is a high likelihood that your "friends" have - and thus your personal info is being passed on! Nice, huh?

Now, I've written about Facebook a number of times (see here, here, and here), so none of this comes as a surprise to me. But I am amazed at the continued explosive growth of the site, given all the negative publicity they have been receiving; either people don't read or they're just incredibly stupid.

The Huffington Post had this to say about it, along with some informative links that you should look at (particularly the three things you can do on Facebook to help protect your privacy - not that it seems to have much effect!).

As I was looking into this story, I discovered a great website, SUSPACK. There is an excellent essay about Facebook, focusing on the good, the bad, and the ugly. If you only click through to one item, this is the one!

And, if you still feel a desperate urge to use a social networking service, take a look at these alternatives.

Of course, with the speed of change in this world, who knows how long it will be before the next phenomenon comes along that will overshadow Facebook ... only time will tell.

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