Facebook is no stranger to the complaints of privacy activists. First, it was the site's News Feed feature back in 2006. Most recently, the company's Beacon service drew widespread criticism. This blog post will outline yet another major privacy issue, in which Facebook recklessly exposes user data.
Facebook launched its widely popular application developer program back in May 2007. As of press time, there were more than 14,000 applications. Some, including most of the popular apps, are made by companies, while a few of the popular apps, and a significant number of the long tail of the less popular applications are made by individual developers.
But a new study suggests there may be a bigger problem with the applications. Many are given access to far more personal data than they need to in order to run, including data on users who never even signed up for the application. Not only does Facebook enable this, but it does little to warn users that it is even happening, and of the risk that a rogue application developer can pose.
Privacy problems for the user
In order to install an application, a Facebook user must first agree to "allow this application to...know who I am and access my information." Users not willing to permit the application access to all kinds of data from their profile cannot install it onto their Facebook page.
What kind of information does Facebook give the application developer access to? Practically everything. According to the Application Terms of Service,
Slate is positioning Facebook's reliance on user-generated content as a bit like IKEA:
Ikea keeps its costs and prices low by enlisting its customers--their time, their cars, their ambitions as interior designers, and their inflated ideas of their carpentry skills.
Management experts Rafael Ramirez and Richard Normann pointed this out in the Harvard Business Review back in 1993. Ikea, they argued, was a success because it enabled "value co-production."
The article's author goes on to credit Microsoft with creating a value co-production platform but completely overlooks the open-source software industry. Is open source like IKEA? Well, … Read more
Maybe they were pulled voluntarily due to embarrassing content, or involuntarily due to inappropriate material--either way, sometimes social-networking profiles get deleted. And a recent controversy in the U.K. has left some Web users wondering exactly what happens to them.
Here's how it started. A few Facebook members pointed out that the site keeps profile data intact after users delete their accounts so that they can be subsequently "un-deleted" if the addictiveness factor of Facebook proves to be too much. But what if they don't come back? We all know by now that Social Ads, the … Read more
The New York Times has an insightful (and funny) article on the secret of Facebook's success. Facebook's increasingly open platform lets in a wide range of applications. However, if you've spent more than a few seconds on Facebook, you know that all that glitters is not gold. It's not even copper:So far, though, the applications fall mainly into two categories: the silly and the annoying (and sometimes, both). Users can throw virtual sheep at each other or take part in zombie attacks on their friends. Recently, many users received a message entreating them to "… Read more
"I'll go on a hunger strike!"
So said one adamant Facebook user in the wake of the news that game manufacturers Hasbro and Mattel were trying to do something about the wildly popular, unquestionably addictive online game known as Scrabulous.
The game, which rose to fame when its creators turned it into an embeddable Facebook application, is a word game that's a whole lot like the classic board game Scrabble. It uses a playing board with "bonus" spots just like Scrabble. In fact, the rules are identical to Scrabble's.
The companies in charge … Read more
This post was updated at 9:11 a.m. PST with comment from Nick Denton.
Facebook isn't too happy with Gawker Media founder Nick Denton over some screenshots of a member's profile that he posted on Gawker.com on Tuesday, Portfolio.com reports. The social-networking site reportedly plans to send a warning letter to the New York-based digital-media entrepreneur citing several terms-of-service violations--one more, and he's out.
Facebook representatives were not immediately available for comment.
On Tuesday, Denton--who took over as managing editor of Gawker.com this month after several staff departures--posted a bit of an expose … Read more
A trio of German entrepreneurs-turned-investors may have invested in Facebook, TechCrunch wrote Tuesday.
The European Founders Fund, consisting of thirtysomething brothers Alexander, Marc and Oliver Samwer, has reportedly put out a "very brief press release" explaining that they have invested in the Palo Alto, Calif.-based social-networking site. An exact amount was not disclosed.
The investment firm was not immediately available for comment.
It's no secret that Facebook has been hunting for new investors ever since it was pegged with a whopping $15 billion valuation following Microsoft's famous purchase of a $240 million stake. Some of … Read more