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Facebook has not only been sharing the visited page ID of the ad-click, but the vistor's ID as well. This can be used to reveal private info. The companies receiving this info -- Google and Yahoo -- claim that they haven't used it.  (Source: Typhon Vision)

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg insists that customers don't value privacy anymore. Now his company is changing their tune.
Google and Yahoo claim they never realized Facebook and MySpace was giving them hoards of user data

MySpace and Facebook have both found themselves in trouble of late, with customers complaining about the revelation that the companies were sharing private information with advertisers, despite promises that user information would not be shared in the Terms of Service. 

Facebook was perhaps the worst offender with this.  Its CEO has insisted at times that customers don't really care about privacy.  And it has rolled out multiple changes to it page to try to get customers to mistakenly unveil more info.

Finally after much criticism, MySpace and Facebook have vowed at last to make changes to make sure that advertisers don't get the profile link that the click was received from (anonymizing it). 
The Wall Street Journal indicates that its reports on the subject finally spurred the popular social networks to action.

It was shown that advertisers could use the provided link to find private details like name, age, relationship status, hometown and occupation from a person's account.  Google Inc.'s DoubleClick and Yahoo Inc.'s Right Media were among the companies that 
received dumps of the links' private data, but they claim they didn't even know about it and never used it.

The industry advertising standard (set largely by Google) is that it is forbidden to collect personally identifiable information without users' permission.  Facebook and MySpace have been known to tread the line on privacy issues, but in this case the revelation of their mischief was too embarrassing for them to not take action.

Among the other companies that revealed links to personal profiles were LiveJournal, Hi5, Xanga and Digg.  Twitter also revealed links, but only when advertisers clicked on certain links on the profile page (as normal user profile pages do not bear ads -- yet).  However, these links would provide info on the profile being viewed, not the person themself.

Facebook went the farthest though, providing the ID of both the visitor and the visited profile.  Facebook says that it has since fixed the offending code.

States a Facebook spokesman, "We were recently made aware of one case where if a user takes a specific route on the site, advertisers may see that they clicked on their own profile and then clicked on an ad.  We fixed this case as soon as we heard about it."

Unlike Facebook, MySpace does not demand user's real names.  It is only sharing the ID of users, which will only reveal the info they choose to share on their page.  Nonetheless, in response to concerns, MySpace is making changes as well.  States a spokesperson, "[We are] currently implementing a methodology that will obfuscate the 'FriendID' in any URL that is passed along to advertisers."

In a statement Google wrote, "Google doesn't seek in any way to make any use of any user names or IDs that their URLs may contain."

And Yahoo's head of privacy Anne Toth similarly stated, "We prohibit clients from sending personally identifiably information to us.  We have told them. 'We don't want it. You shouldn't be sending it to us. If it happens to be there, we are not looking for it."



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This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled

Database
By Azsen on 5/21/2010 9:49:27 AM , Rating: 2
Whoever runs Facebook has complete access to your data anyway. It's not like they encrypt the database so only you and people you allow can access certain parts of it.




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