Privacy is always a concern when you are spending time on the internet. Facebook is one company who has landed itself in some hot water over privacy of late and it has just gotten worse.
The Wall Street Journal has reported that Facebook (and a number of other social-networking sites) have been sharing users’ personal data with advertisers. The problem is that this data is being shared without the users’ knowledge or consent.
The issue was first raised back in August last year by researchers from Worcester Polytechnic Institute and AT&T Labs, but Facebook chose to ignore their concerns. That is until the Wall Street Journal stepped in, and then the site’s stopped sharing the data.
Here is what Facebook had to say to the Wall Street Journal about the issue:
We were recently made aware of one case where if a user takes a specific route on the site, advertisers may see that they clicked on their own profile and then clicked on an ad. We fixed this case as soon as we heard about it.
The information included usernames and ID numbers that could be traced back to individual profiles. Large advertising companies including Google’s DoubleClick and Yahoo’s Right Media were identified as having received the information although they claim to have not made use of it.
The information could be used to look up individual profiles, which, depending on the site and the information a user has made public, include such things as a person’s real name, age, hometown and occupation.
This is definitely bad timing for Facebook. There has been quite a revolt of late with many users closing down their accounts in protest over Facebook’s lax privacy laws.
Will this news cause you to think twice about clicking on Facebook ads?