You know FarmVille and the many other Facebook apps you and/or your family and friends enjoy? The ones that have taken up countless hours out of peoples’ lives? Well, it looks like these cute, harmless games aren’t just taking your time. The Wall Street Journal seems to have found out that a good chunk of apps are responsible for your name being spread to third-party companies, mainly advertising firms. This of course is supposed to be a no-no on Facebook’s end, but somehow these games slipped through the cracks are now sharing yours and even your friends’ info to those you might not want having it.
How it works is by gaining access to your Facebook ID, which is something everyone on the site has. All that needs to be done is look up the ID and you have visitor access to a person’s profile, mainly their name. Even people with their profiles locked down aren’t safe because their name is still visible. One firm was even called out in the mess, RapLeaf which was getting peoples’ ID’s and linking them to their database. Of course, this database was what they sold. It was even distributed to other firms who wanted their hands on the info.
From what was found by WSJ, ten of the most popular Facebook apps are to blame for the distribution, with FarmVille and Texas Hold’em Poker being pointed out. Apps that are thought to be sharing the ID’s are or will be shut down as soon as found.
Facebook has sent out a spokesperson to help lessen the blow of this newfound problem by stating, among other things, “this is an even more complicated technical challenge than a similar issue we successfully addressed last spring on Facebook.com…but one that we are committed to addressing.”
Mike Vernal has made a statement of Facebook Developers,
“Press reports have exaggerated the implications of sharing a UID. Knowledge of a UID does not enable anyone to access private user information without explicit user consent. Nevertheless, we are committed to ensuring that even the inadvertent passing of UIDs is prevented and all applications are in compliance with our policy.”