Granted, Facebook is addictive. Especially the Scrabulous/Scrabble part which is what got me hooked. For many others, Zynga’s FarmVille, Mafia Wars game portfolio is the original hook. And for those people–there’s a rude awakening. Without knowing it, they have “overshared” their data.
Those games or apps–plus many others–have been sharing Facebook ID numbers with advertising agencies and other “data miners.” This is the kinda thing that could launch more, MANY more, defections from Facebook which many Web-centric professionals have taken to as a business tool as much as a social networking escape.
The Wall Street Journal’s excellent “What They Know” series highlighted the Facebook–what’s the word here? Breach? Snafu? Willful malfeasance?
Money quote from the WSJ:
“The apps reviewed by the Journal were sending Facebook ID numbers to at least 25 advertising and data firms, several of which build profiles of Internet users by tracking their online activities.
Defenders of online tracking argue that this kind of surveillance is benign because it is conducted anonymously. In this case, however, the Journal found that one data-gathering firm, RapLeaf Inc., had linked Facebook user ID information obtained from apps to its own database of Internet users, which it sells. RapLeaf also transmitted the Facebook IDs it obtained to a dozen other firms, the Journal found.”
The news comes at a time when Microsoft–still desperate to build credibility in Internet search–hopes to use a tightened Facebook alliance to do just that. That Microsoft-Facebook search alliance may come back to bite Microsoft Bing in the butt after this unsavory news. As for Facebook’s red face, maybe Mark Zuckerberg will write a very large check to another inner-city school district.