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Facebook Punishes Devs Who Shared User IDs 71

Posted by Soulskill
from the barn-doors-and-horses dept.
A couple weeks ago, we discussed news that some Facebook application developers were selling or accidentally sharing user IDs to advertisers and data brokers in violation of Facebook's privacy terms. Now, the company writes that they've updated the policy to dictate how UIDs can be handled within applications, and also punished the offending developers by blocking access to the site's communication channels for a period of six months. Quoting: "While we determined that no private user data was sold and confirmed that transfer of these UIDs did not give access to any private data, this violation of our policy is something we take seriously. As such, we are taking action against these developers by instituting a 6-month full moratorium on their access to Facebook communication channels, and we will require these developers to submit their data practices to an audit in the future to confirm that they are in compliance with our policies. This impacts fewer than a dozen, mostly small developers, none of which are in the top 10 applications on Facebook Platform. We have also reached an agreement with Rapleaf, the data broker who came forward to work with us on this situation. Rapleaf has agreed to delete all UIDs in its possession, and they have agreed not to conduct any activities on the Facebook Platform (either directly or indirectly) going forward."
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Facebook Punishes Devs Who Shared User IDs

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  • Hurray! (Score:1, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Zoidberg can use Facebook again!

    • It just means these companies didn't kick some of the money they made over to Facebook, like all the bigger guys did.

  • Rapeleaf (Score:1, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Gotta get a better name.

  • Translation (Score:5, Insightful)

    by errxn (108621) on Monday November 01, 2010 @03:45PM (#34093620) Homepage Journal

    Rapleaf has agreed to delete all UIDs in its possession, and they have agreed not to conduct any activities on the Facebook Platform (either directly or indirectly) going forward.

    Translation: If Rapleaf wants to see the sun rise tomorrow, they will do *exactly* as we say.

    Sincerely, Facebook's Legal Team.

    • Further translation:

      This impacts fewer than a dozen, mostly small developers, none of which are in the top 10 applications on Facebook Platform.

      This is great press, but really doesn't affect anybody except for a handful of people so we can do it without concern for repercussions.

      • Re:Translation (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Pharmboy (216950) on Monday November 01, 2010 @04:57PM (#34094582) Journal

        Or to further translate:

        This isn't being done by companies that pouring money into Facebook like Zynga.

        If Zynga has been the offending party, do you *really* think they would kick Zynga off for 6 months, and cut their revenue by 90%? I don't think so. The only reason they are being "tough" on "these companies" is that "these companies" don't contribute in any significant way to their bottom line.

        • by sortadan (786274)
          Wasn't Farmville one of the ones that WAS accused of sharing the userID? wsj story [wsj.com]
          • That is the exact thing I was wondering...

            I remember a Slashdot story [slashdot.org] a while back that dealt with this too.

            Good point sortadan.

    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Bah... No impact.

      At which point Rapleaf immediately declares bankruptcy and a new corporation called RapTwig comes into being. RapTwig being a new entity CAN conduct any business they wish...
       

  • by Skarecrow77 (1714214) on Monday November 01, 2010 @03:52PM (#34093690)

    "While we determined that no private user data was sold..."

    Isn't this one of the companies (along with google) that declared that "privacy on the web no longer exists" or something along those lines?

    hence, no "private user data" can be sold because all user data is public, therefore no crime has been committed.

    • by jgagnon (1663075)

      Privacy is bad for business... it should be banned.

    • by Monkeedude1212 (1560403) on Monday November 01, 2010 @04:15PM (#34094014) Journal

      Exactly, but we've been setting up these double standards where nearly every country in the world has slammed Google for collecting private data for themselves (which of course they claim is an accident), and then Facebook essentially lets any app developer do the same thing (again unintentional).

      Now the developers have actually gone and made money off that data, and now less than a dozen of the smallest targets are getting picked off.How on Earth is that fair?

      IF we're going to get mad at Google for roaming around in a car picking up SSID's than WHY can't we get mad at Zynga for taking whatever information they have about me and making money by selling it? If the argument is that "it's public anyways, anyone can just look it up" for your facebook info, why is listening to unsecured wifi considered illegal?

      I don't really care if the law went one way or the other, (Well I have my preferences), but its far more annoying when its inconsistant rather than my way.

      • Ya because zynga really needs to sell user data to make money.
      • by twright0 (1877370)

        IF we're going to get mad at Google for roaming around in a car picking up SSID's than WHY can't we get mad at Zynga for taking whatever information they have about me and making money by selling it?

        Because Zynga only gets the data that YOU give them; you ultimately have control over how much information Zynga gets about you. Don't want them to have information about you? Don't use their applications.

      • Now the developers have actually gone and made money off that data, and now less than a dozen of the smallest targets are getting picked off.How on Earth is that fair?

        Not to nitpick, but when has the world ever been fair?

    • "While we determined that no private user data was sold..."

      Isn't this one of the companies (along with google) that declared that "privacy on the web no longer exists" or something along those lines?

      hence, no "private user data" can be sold because all user data is public, therefore no crime has been committed.

      Q.E.D.

    • Isn't this one of the companies (along with google) that declared that "privacy on the web no longer exists" or something along those lines?

      I was under the impression that was just the CEO making an ill-advised statement. I don't think that's officially company policy.

  • Making an example (Score:4, Interesting)

    by mr100percent (57156) on Monday November 01, 2010 @03:55PM (#34093724) Homepage Journal

    Interesting. If you want to make an example out of them, then this seems effective. Still, would they have been so harsh against a dev if they were in the top 10? What if Zynga had done this, do you think FB would have banned them for months?

  • Couldn't (Score:3, Insightful)

    by vxice (1690200) on Monday November 01, 2010 @03:56PM (#34093730)
    You just operate for a while collect a bunch of ids, seems like something you would need to track accounts, and once you have a worth treasure trove take the slap on the wrist but only after you have transfered all your applications to another 'developer'?
  • This impacts fewer than a dozen, mostly small developers, none of which are in the top 10 applications on Facebook Platform.

    Why not? Are you trying to suggest that they don't have these practices, or they simply haven't been caught doing it, or they've got the money to grease palms or hire lawyers?

  • by s.d. (33767) on Monday November 01, 2010 @03:57PM (#34093754)

    Those stories about the great privacy terms violations said that Zynga, via Farmville, was a big offender (the story linked to in the back link to the older Slashdot article says this, in fact).

    I wonder if they say "anyone who grabs the UID is punished" b/c that freed up some of their biggest developers, like Zynga, who were doing other bad stuff, but not that bad (for some subjective definition of bad)?

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      According to the Wall Street Journal:
      "The Journal found that all of the 10 most popular apps on Facebook were transmitting users' IDs to outside companies."
      from http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304772804575558484075236968.html?mod=what_they_know

      I too am puzzled.

  • So yeah, instead of making a platform where they guard user's data privacy, their policy to prevent abuse is a rule that says "you are not allowed to do this", with no effective way of policing whether or not someone's doing it.

    This is like leaving your computer with your private information open to remote logins, with a blank password, announcing on the internet that they can use your computer (for whatever reason there may be) and then saying, "but don't be reading my private information mmmkay?"

    Morons...

  • This isn't even closing the door after the horse has bolted (data that's been sold, is sold, any it ain't coming back), this is shouting at somebody for walking out with the horse while still leaving the door wide open.
    • by Abcd1234 (188840)

      This isn't even closing the door after the horse has bolted (data that's been sold, is sold, any it ain't coming back)

      Except the UIDs aren't *data*, per se. While it does allow the receiver of the data to track actions against individual users, which is bad, it doesn't grant them access to private profile data.

      That doesn't make this excusable, as individual tracking is bad enough (although it can be just as easily achieved with simple cookies). But it's no massive privacy breach.

  • Why were they not terminated?

  • Interesting how the dont do anything about one of there bigger clients! Zynga has done it before and they havent done a thing about it! Yes for all you farmville people they have released data on you!
  • And they reported them for animal cruelty for good measure.
  • There are only two possibilities here:

    This was a misunderstanding, and the developers involved should get a warning.

    This wasn't a misunderstanding, and the developers should be permanently banned to protect facebook users. Otherwise they will just look for other ways to sell data to make money.

    Punishments are for dealing with children who don't know the difference between right and wrong. Adults don't generally change their opinions on what's right when they are punished.

  • Zynga shares facebook user ids openly through mafia wars. The user images in mafiawars have the facebook ids in them.
    I don't have to explain how to find the actual facebook page with that, do I?

  • Facebook: "Bad developers! You can't sell private user info to advertisers and data brokers. Only we are allowed to do that!"
  • So Zynga got booted? I am pretty sure that Zynga could do whatever they want and FB would not do a thing about it.

  • Sure, grandstanding on the issue of privacy while butt-raping it themselves will foil a lot of people. But the key phrase is:

    "This impacts fewer than a dozen, mostly small developers, none of which are in the top 10 applications on Facebook Platform"

    Would they have done the same if Zynga, which generates a ton of money for them and has a large legal team, had been affected? I guess not.

  • Facebook staff have been amazed to discover that when Facebook passes users' complete details to application developers and advertisers, some of the partner companies might accidentally let slip the information in some manner [newstechnica.com].

    "We are appalled at this information leak," said Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg as he took a break from his personal RSS feed of drunk women's tits posted to his service. "But I can assure you that we have sternly suggested to everyone involved that they take somewhat greater care no

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