Feeds

Facebook developers exiled for selling user IDs to brokers

Data broker comes clean

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

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. ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
FYI: OS X Yosemite's Spotlight tells Apple EVERYTHING you're looking for
It's on by default – didn't you read the small print?
Russian hackers exploit 'Sandworm' bug 'to spy on NATO, EU PCs'
Fix imminent from Microsoft for Vista, Server 2008, other stuff
Edward who? GCHQ boss dodges Snowden topic during last speech
UK spies would rather 'walk' than do 'mass surveillance'
Microsoft pulls another dodgy patch
Redmond makes a hash of hashing add-on
NOT OK GOOGLE: Android images can conceal code
It's been fixed, but hordes won't have applied the upgrade
'LulzSec leader Aush0k' found to be naughty boy not worthy of jail
15 months home detention leaves egg on feds' faces as they grab for more power
China is ALREADY spying on Apple iCloud users, claims watchdog
Attack harvests users' info at iPhone 6 launch
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.