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Facebook apps transmitting personal info to advertisers

by Kelly MacNeil on October 18, 2010

For years, Facebook has dealt with controversy surrounding the site’s its privacy settings and how much information was divulged to its operators. Now, according to a report from The Wall Street Journal, tens of millions of users of Facebook applications had their personal information passed on to a litany of advertising and Internet tracking companies.

The privacy breach affects even those who have their profile set on the strictest privacy settings, and provides the company with access to users’ names, and their friends’ names. The practice goes against Facebook policy and a spokesperson for the company said they are taking steps to limit such devious activity.

“Our technical systems have always been complemented by strong policy enforcement, and we will continue to rely on both to keep people in control of their information,” the Facebook official told the news provider.

Facebook apps are some of the most popular features of the widely used social networking website. One of the largest offenders was the popular application FarmVille, which has more than 59 million users across the globe. Other popular apps are Texas HoldEm Poker and FrontierVille.

The apps in question are not created by Facebook, but by private software developers. In their investigation, the publication found that some apps were sending personal information to at least 25 different online advertising companies. Despite the fact some experts claim that this sort of personal information sharing is relatively harmless, Facebook has taken steps toward shutting down a number of offenders.

The discovery comes at an inopportune time for embattled Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. In addition to a growing number of privacy concerns over the last several years, the 26-year-old Zuckerberg has had to deal with criticism stemming from his portrayal in The Social Network.

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