Monday, October 18, 2010

MySpace in Online Privacy Breach

Today's tempest in a teapot regards a Wall Street Journal article with the title Facebook in Privacy Breach. An excerpt from the top of the article:

Many of the most popular applications, or "apps," on the social-networking site Facebook Inc. have been transmitting identifying information—in effect, providing access to people's names and, in some cases, their friends' names—to dozens of advertising and Internet tracking companies, a Wall Street Journal investigation has found.

The issue affects tens of millions of Facebook app users, including people who set their profiles to Facebook's strictest privacy settings. The practice breaks Facebook's rules, and renews questions about its ability to keep identifiable information about its users' activities secure.

But if you scroll a little farther down the article:

"A Facebook user ID may be inadvertently shared by a user's Internet browser or by an application," the [Facebook] spokesman said. Knowledge of an ID "does not permit access to anyone's private information on Facebook," he said....

Which leads Kashmir Hill to wonder:

Using “breach” to describe this strikes me as overwrought. The applications reveal your name, that you are on Facebook, and possibly which application(s) you’ve downloaded. Is that something that we should be freaking out about?

But perhaps most significant, Hill also refers to a tweet from Jeff Jarvis on the topic:

WSJ Facebook slam makes no mention of its competitor, MySpace.

As you probably know, the Wall Street Journal and MySpace are owned by the same company, News Corp.

More on News Corp. later in the day...
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