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Facebook Sharing Too Much Personal Data With Application Developers 165

An anonymous reader writes "Remember the Facebook News Feed privacy uproar? What about the Beacon scandal from late last year? Privacy activists are rallying around yet another major issue at Facebook, in which the company is secretly sharing user data with third parties. Researchers from the University of Virginia recently announced that in a study of the top 150 Facebook applications, more than 90% were given access to information that was not needed to function correctly. That Scrabble or Superpoke application you really like? Its developers get access to your religion, sexuality and home town. Facebook's position was summed up by Georgetown Law Professor Dan Solove, 'They seem to be going on the assumption that if someone uses Facebook, they really have no privacy concerns.' Do Facebook users deserve privacy? "
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Facebook Sharing Too Much Personal Data With Application Developers

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  • Wow (Score:5, Interesting)

    by sjbe ( 173966 ) on Thursday February 07, 2008 @01:47PM (#22336298)
    I haven't seen a company this determined to shoot themselves in the foot with bad policy since Real Networks []. You'd think they would think Facebook might have realized at least some people actually do care about balancing utility with privacy.
  • conclusion: (Score:2, Interesting)

    by circletimessquare ( 444983 ) <> on Thursday February 07, 2008 @01:49PM (#22336320) Homepage Journal
    facebooks should just adopt openid

    it's getting to the point where you really don't have to think anymore to solve problems in information technology

    just read slashdot headlines. problems, and solutions, present themselves. often in temporal order. right next to each other

    (scratches head)
  • by garcia ( 6573 ) on Thursday February 07, 2008 @01:51PM (#22336346)
    I work in Higher Education and we're just starting to get on the ball with recruiting via Social Networking (we're always years behind the curve -- I'm surprised we're this current actually) and just as with anything that you provide to a third party, you should really think about what that group needs to have from you in order for you to get what you need in return.

    Higher Education is still generally based on paper marketing. Yes, we have a mass of information available on the web but it's not enough honestly and from some Noell-Levitz studies it has been found that the majority of students still want to be communicated by traditional mail marketing in addition to everything else. In fact, in the focus groups I have conducted on the topic, 89% of those that responded (pool of ~350) wanted no communication other than direct mail -- that was shocking to me, especially because they were traditional aged students (18 - 24). I have found that most students will give you their name and address (which is more than I normally will give anyone until I actually apply to the college) and not much else (no birthdate, prior education, and especially no phone number or e-mail address).

    So, why are these people giving it to Facebook? Why would they trust that site more than an institution of higher education that is actually mandated by law to protect the privacy of those it deals with? I can't turn around and release any part of a student database to any third party unless its cleansed and has no identifiable information.

    Personally, while Facebook is the "new big thing" in Higher Education, it's not worth it for our institution to spend all that much time recruiting by it. Our traditional data works just fine to increase enrollment through the traditional mail, phone and e-communication programs I have developed and redeveloped. That said, I really do believe that people should be very careful about what they put out on any social networking site. Contrary to the belief that there are no automated programs allowed to scour the site, they do and the data that comes back is some really interesting stuff to wade through.
  • Politics (Score:0, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 07, 2008 @02:01PM (#22336544)
    I registered on Facebook with a made up name just to see what the fuzz was all about and found out that the only serious options you can choose when it comes to politics are:

    Very Liberal
    Very Conservative

    My first thought was "typical american bullshit", then I logged out never to return.
  • by Ralph Spoilsport ( 673134 ) on Thursday February 07, 2008 @02:25PM (#22336952) Journal
    I got burned once too many times by crappy idiotic third rate nonsense "applications" on facebook. Someone sent me a kiss, so I sent one back, but I had a bunch of windows open and didn't notice that I had just sent a kiss to EVERYONE. Now they all know I love them, that's no big deal, but it's the assumption of broadcasting and the will to spam itself that I find offensive about facebook.

    So, one day, I just sat down and yanked most of the applications out. so, if you send me something on the Funwall, sorry - I won't be seeing it. And if you have some dorky movie compatibility quiz, I won't be playing the game. If you want to contact me, there's a facility for sending messages and comments. If you can't get put enough words together to do that, then you're probably not one of my friends, anyway.

    Facebook has outlived its usefulness.

    Perhaps something like [] will be the next big thing because there, you have to do something - contribution to the data matters more than just being a consuming node for a data mine.


  • by sherriw ( 794536 ) on Thursday February 07, 2008 @02:36PM (#22337194)
    I have a friend who thought that the check box "Allow this application to know who I am and access my information" meant:

    Allow it to know my name. Allow it to 'know' the info I put into the application itself. Ie, what I type INTO the funwall. She didn't know that it meant 'access my PROFILE information'.

    I think this should be clarified to: "know who I am and access all of my profile information."
  • So basically (Score:5, Interesting)

    by WormholeFiend ( 674934 ) on Thursday February 07, 2008 @03:33PM (#22338262)
    the title of this post should read "People are sharing too much personal data with Facebook"...

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