WOW!  Even the Wall Street Journal thinks Facebook’s data collection, data profiling and app-sharing is out of control.


From the 4/9/12 WSJ column:

A Wall Street Journal examination of 100 of the most popular Facebook apps found that some seek the email addresses, current location and sexual preference, among other details, not only of app users but also of their Facebook friends. One Yahoo service powered by Facebook requests access to a person’s religious and political leanings as a condition for using it. The popular Skype service for making online phone calls seeks the Facebook photos and birthdays of its users and their friends.

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Yahoo and Skype say that they seek the information to customize their services for users and that they are committed to protecting privacy. “Data that is shared with Yahoo is managed carefully,” a Yahoo spokeswoman said.

The Journal also tested its own app, “WSJ Social,” which seeks data about users’ basic profile information and email and requests the ability to post an update when a user reads an article. A Journal spokeswoman says that the company asks only for information required to make the app work.

This appetite for personal data reflects a fundamental truth about Facebook and, by extension, the Internet economy as a whole: Facebook provides a free service that users pay for, in effect, by providing details about their lives, friendships, interests and activities. Facebook, in turn, uses that trove of information to attract advertisers, app makers and other business opportunities.

The unconstrained collection of digital data is stirring feelings of distrust among some users.Consumers are being pinned like insects to a pinboard, the way we’re being studied,” said Jill Levenson, a creative project manager at Boys & Girls Clubs of America in Atlanta. She recently deleted nearly 100 apps on Facebook and Twitter, she said, because she was uncomfortable with the way details about her life might be used.


Not only are apps obtaining data directly from people’s Facebook accounts, some apps are also letting unapproved advertising companies track users, according to data collected from PrivacyChoice, a start-up that offers privacy services. This could be a violation of Facebook’s advertising policies.

In July 2009, the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada investigated Facebook and discovered that it was sharing too much of users’ personal data with app makers without informing users. “This is no trivial issue: There are close to a million developers out there, scattered across some 180 countries,” said Elizabeth Denham, who was then Canada’s assistant privacy commissioner.

via Selling You on Facebook –