Feeds

Facebook developers exiled for selling user IDs to brokers

Data broker comes clean

The Power of One eBook: Top reasons to choose HP BladeSystem

Facebook is taking action against developers who flouted company rules by selling unique user IDs to a data broker.

The unnamed developers, which numbered fewer than 12, won't have access to Facebook communication channels for six months, Facebook platform engineer Mike Vernal said on Friday. They also will be required to submit their data practices to a third-party auditor to confirm they comply with Facebook policies.

Facebook has also reached an agreement with data broker Rapleaf, which according to a Wall Street Journal investigation linked Facebook user IDs it got from games developers to its own database of Internet users, which it sells. Rapleaf will delete all the IDs in its possession and has promised not to conduct similar activities in the future.

“In taking these steps, we believe we are taking the appropriate measures to ensure people stay in control of their information, while providing developers the tools they need to create engaging social experiences,” Vernal said. “We look forward to broader cooperation from everyone in the web community to confront issues that impact all of us.”

The action comes after the WSJ caught Facebook transmitting the user IDs of those playing some of the site's most popular games to dozens of advertising and Internet tracking companies. The disclosure came even as Facebook's terms of service promised that personally identifiable information would never be sold to advertisers or data brokers.

The allegations are now part of a federal lawsuit filed against Zynga, developer of some of the social network's most popular apps. The complaint claims Zynga collected and shared the IDs of 218 million users. Zynga has said the complaint is without merit. A similar lawsuit has been filed against Facebook.

The user IDs by themselves don't reveal personal information, but when combined with other information, they could jeopardize user privacy, critics contend. Facebook recently introduced plans to encrypt user IDs to prevent inadvertent sharing. So-called parameter encryption could make it harder for data brokers, intelligence agencies and other snoops to track the activities of Facebook users. ®

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications

More from The Register

next story
DARPA-derived secure microkernel goes open source tomorrow
Hacker-repelling, drone-protecting code will soon be yours to tweak as you see fit
How long is too long to wait for a security fix?
Synology finally patches OpenSSL bugs in Trevor's NAS
Don't look, Snowden: Security biz chases Tails with zero-day flaws alert
Exodus vows not to sell secrets of whistleblower's favorite OS
Roll out the welcome mat to hackers and crackers
Security chap pens guide to bug bounty programs that won't fail like Yahoo!'s
HIDDEN packet sniffer spy tech in MILLIONS of iPhones, iPads – expert
Don't panic though – Apple's backdoor is not wide open to all, guru tells us
Researcher sat on critical IE bugs for THREE YEARS
VUPEN waited for Pwn2Own cash while IE's sandbox leaked
Four fake Google haxbots hit YOUR WEBSITE every day
Goog the perfect ruse to slip into SEO orfice
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Seven Steps to Software Security
Seven practical steps you can begin to take today to secure your applications and prevent the damages a successful cyber-attack can cause.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.