Facebook App Developers Sold User Data...Shock!

Mike Halsey MVP
Nov 1, 2010
Updated • Jan 18, 2015

In a story that seems to have surprised nobody except Facebook, the developers of some applications for the world's largest and most popular social networking website have been selling user details, harvested by their apps.

The user data, which is gathered quite legitimately by apps on the site, was found to have been sold to data brokers.  Facebook have published a statement saying that certain app developers have been banned from the site for non-compliance with the website's policies.

Their blog post said the company's own investigation had shown that user identifiers (UID) were being sold. The investigation was conducted after media reports that lists of contacts were being sold to advertising agencies.

Facebook have said that they are "determined that no private user data was sold and confirmed that transfer of these UIDs did not give access to any private data".

The company updated the policy in regards to the sharing of UIDs as a consequence:

Our policy has always stated that data received from Facebook, including UIDs, cannot be shared with data brokers and ad networks. Moving forward, our policy will state that UIDs cannot leave your application or any of the infrastructure, code, and services you need to build and run your application. You can use services, such as Akamai, Amazon Web Services and analytics services as long as those services keep UIDs confidential to your application

This story really shouldn't surprise anybody however as Facebook has, for a very long time, allowed apps to collect personal data about users without ever monitoring these individuals and companies to see if they are complying with data protection legislation.

This is far from the first time Facebook has faced allegations about its privacy.  The fact that the number of app developers being punished was "less than a dozen" and that none had any of the top-rated apps on the network is irrelevant, as Facebook need to reflect with the utmost urgency on privacy right across its website.


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  1. Hotrao said on November 2, 2010 at 5:18 pm

    Again is not possible that everytime there’s a problem with Facebook security!

    As I said many times, is a matter of everyone choosing what to post, but at same time there should be some *serious* regulation that obliges those holding datas to detain and use them fairly.

    Facebook is not reliable on this.

  2. Dave said on November 2, 2010 at 12:58 am

    Love the headline!

  3. Jack said on November 2, 2010 at 12:36 am

    The only thing that might surprise anyone – by now – is that anyone might be surprised…

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