New report: Facebook transmitting identifying information


Many of the most popular applications on the social-networking site Facebook have been transmitting identifying information — providing access to people’s names and, in some cases, their friends’ names — to dozens of advertising and Internet tracking companies, a Wall Street Journal investigation has found.

The issue affects tens of millions of Facebook app users, including people who set their profiles to Facebook’s strictest privacy settings, the WSJ reported.

The practice breaks Facebook’s rules, and renews questions about its ability to keep identifiable information about its users’ activities secure, the WSJ said.

Facebook spokesman said it is taking steps to “dramatically limit” the exposure of users’ personal information.

“A Facebook user ID may be inadvertently shared by a user’s Internet browser or by an application,” the spokesman told the WSJ.

Knowledge of an ID “does not permit access to anyone’s private information on Facebook,” he said, adding that the company would introduce new technology to contain the problem identified by the WSJ.

The WSJ defines “apps” as pieces of software that let Facebook’s 500 million users play games or share common interests with one another. The Journal found that all of the 10 most popular apps on Facebook were transmitting users’ IDs to outside companies.

As a result, do you plan to limit your use of Facebook? Bail out altogether?

Or, do you think the privacy concerns are overblown in an era of instant exchanges of information on the Internet?

Finally, do you think there is a generational divide on this issue, with younger people much less likely to be concerned over privacy?

For instant updates, follow me on Twitter.

67 comments Add your comment


October 18th, 2010
7:12 am

Facebook is a time-waster and is for losers.

Ex-Facebook User

October 18th, 2010
7:24 am

I thought as much. I stopped using FB months ago after I began receiving tons of spam e-mails and mysterious requests from people I didn’t know from Adam asking me to become their “friends”.

No matter what FB and the administrators of other social networking sites pretend to say about your personal information being “protected”, it is NOT.


October 18th, 2010
7:25 am

But posting comments about an article is an effective way to spend your time…


October 18th, 2010
7:26 am

Facebook is ok as long as you don’t use any of the apps. And those def are a big waste of time.

Public Health Girl

October 18th, 2010
7:33 am

I have to agree with Ex-Facebook user. I have also been receiving tons of spam mail, and I long suspected that it was because of facebook. mayeb it’s time for me to shut my page down as well.

I think the “like” feature is a set-up. for example….click “like” if you you were born in the 70’s…etc.etc


October 18th, 2010
7:38 am

the internet is only safe if you do not login


October 18th, 2010
7:41 am

Commenting on how much of a time-waster Facebook is justified. Count the number of hours a week you waste being on FB versus the number of hours per week you spend on something useful or constructive and ask yourself is it worth it? You never get that time back. Facebook should be changed to Loserbook.


October 18th, 2010
7:50 am

To those who wish to continue using the internet, the answer is simple:

Do not post anything you do not wish to have known.

[...] Advertisers are getting all sorts of supposably “safe” information from Facebook. [...]


October 18th, 2010
8:01 am

If you are going to voluntarily use a website that asks you to share your personal information with the world, you deserve any breach of privacy that ensues. This is the price you pay for having to transmit every single detail of your life to everyone on your friends list.


October 18th, 2010
8:04 am

Facebook has had issues like this for a long time and I guarantee you that as long as they are making money off your information, all they will do is provide you with some fluffy response about how diligent they are working to resolve this issue. I have no clue how anybody has any time at all to spend so much time on sites like facebook and twitter.

Street Cred Craig of Wilmy

October 18th, 2010
8:10 am

Facebook is so COOL! I fell out of touch with a lot of high school friends and this has allowed me to reconnect. I missed high school soooo much and the peeps I hung out with and now I talk to them ALL the time and relive all memories!!! FACEBOOK RULES!!!!


October 18th, 2010
8:19 am

*yawn* It’s all just the Zuckerberg media relations strategy to keep Facebook at the top of the charts, so to speak. For old folks and dolts, The Facebook is a very scary bad place, complete with all kinds of scary monsters under the bed. Any kinda Facebook *scare* touted in the blazingly irrelevant MSM (talk about desperate measures) sends another 50 million users to the site. Per minute by now. Works like a charm. Zuckerberg could out Rove even Karl Rove himself he’s so good at the art of manipulation.


October 18th, 2010
8:34 am

I defriended everyone, deleted all apps, changed my name and then deactivated the account. If you merely deactivate the account, it keeps all your information intact, including friends, pictures and applications and probably still transmits information. It scared me that all Likes were being shared with Bing and I debated deleting the account, but now I’m sure I did the right thing.

Gary Wolf

October 18th, 2010
8:38 am

Either it is extremely sloppy programming or purposely planned. Seeing their profits is from your information and the site is not crashing. Do the math. Demand your share of the profits from your information.


October 18th, 2010
8:45 am

All these social networking sites are about vanity, conceit and narcissism. These people actually believe everyone wants to know every update of their pathetic lives…hey, I just ate a cheese sandwich, I just pooed, I’m running low on cereal, look at the picture of the lint trap in my dryer, etc.

It’s not about keeping up wih people. If you really wanted to stay in touch…you would still be in touch!

Donna Outlaw

October 18th, 2010
9:04 am

Is 56 considered an old folk? I love Facebook, do not spend my life on it and I probably have the same opinion of the way people who say FB is a waste of time and for losers chose to spend THEIR time but I wouldn’t call them losers because of it. As Bon Jovi sang Friday night when I was up front near the stage with 40,000 people behind me on the beach in Gulf Shores, AL – it’s MY life!


October 18th, 2010
9:09 am

I see nothing wrong with FB. But, I do think they need to tighten their security measures. . . and I agree that some people put way more personal information on FB than they probably should. I use FB regularly, but I am careful that my security preferences are very tight, allowing only people that I know to see my wall and photos.

Prez Obozo

October 18th, 2010
9:18 am

Prez Obozo says – I only use facebook to communicate to look for friends from the past. I do not play any of these MINDLESS games which are silly!


October 18th, 2010
9:19 am

Using FB and other social networking sites is like living out loud. Twitter is short attention span theatre at it’s – well best. While numerous people seem to love the ability to connect with friends of old or strangers pretendign to be things they are not – just remember; the sole purpose of these sites is NOT to benefit you and your friends. It’s to collect as much information about you as possible and sell it to the company’s you say you “like”. Once in perspective, it clearly allowed me to realize what I want these companies to know and not know about me.


October 18th, 2010
9:25 am

Anyone that uses Facebook or especially twitter. If they really even care about privacy. Thing is that Twitter (an insidious name). Twitter tracks people naturally if you can even add. Then you can figure out Twitter can track you anywhere you go. Then there is Twit. Now I’m not denigrating anyone here. You have to admit though there is too close of a proximity between Twit and Twitter


October 18th, 2010
9:27 am

Definitions of twit (n)

twit [ twit ]
offensive term: an offensive term that deliberately insults somebody’s commonsense or consideration for others


October 18th, 2010
9:28 am

I disagree with everyone on here who just came on here to deride social networking sites. First off, who determines what is a ‘waste of time’? If I enjoy keeping up with friends, posting funny or enlightening comments and having others respond to it then why do you consider that a ‘waste of time’? If i don’t like baseball games and someone takes me to one for enjoyment then I would considered that a waste of time. Wasting time is determined by the one spending the time. A 3yr relationship that ends poorly could be considered a waste of time, along with just about anything you do in life. It’s all about perspective and what you get out of it.

Facebook takes advantage of what humans are by nature, social creatures. We want to share our lives with others that’s why we go out to parties and do other activities with other people. There are very few people in the world that say ‘Hey I would love to go to a basketball game by myself’.

Also, it is an easy way to keep in contact with old friends without having to use a phone call or send an email because without facebook, you would forget about a lot of the connections you have in life. Facebook allows you to keep up with people you may have not otherwise which is a good thing. Most of us have too busy of lives to try and keep up with every single person we would like to so facebook just makes that process a lot easier. I can see pics of my best friends’ babies growing up on a daily basis and share a little bit in their experience. Just because i would not otherwise keep up with them does not mean i do not still care about them. Life gets cluttered and facebook allows you to keep easy contact with others even while so much other stuff is going on. I’ve personally reconnected and ended up visiting multiple friends i had lost contact with through the years because of facebook.

And people who say social networking sites are for narcissus, WAKE UP!!! Humans are narcissistic by nature. Everything you do is about YOU and what YOU want to do. Even when you do a good deed you do it because it makes YOU feel good to make someone else feel good.

And if you are concerned about privacy on the internet DON’T LOG ON. Because a hell of a lot more info is being taken and shared about you based on your PC use that you’ll ever hear about. At least we can track what facebook does to an extent. Most of the other information gathered about you through other means goes undetected.

But i’m glad to hear that a lot of you are ‘too cool’ for facebook.


October 18th, 2010
9:28 am

Facebook is becoming increasingly “infiltrated” by corporate interests who are beginning to use it (and Twitter) as a marketing vehicle. I give it another couple of years before people abandon it en masse in favor of some new social networking paradigm, led as always by the youth.


October 18th, 2010
9:32 am

Anyone with a functioning brain should be able to use facebook in a way to circumvent these issues. First, you use it with a secondary e-mail, not your primary. Everyone should have a secondary e-mail for any junk purposes. Second, you don’t put all of your personal information on facebook! There is a thing in America called the “bait and switch.” What is private today will not be private forever, no matter what anybody says. America sucks that way, and none of this facebook news should come as any surprise.

FB Lover

October 18th, 2010
9:35 am

@ disagree: Well-said!!! I could argue sitting in front of a baseball or football game is a waste of time. Why derride people for doing what they find pleasure in doing? If you enjoy playing Farmville after a long day at the office, whose business is it but yours? It isn’t hurting anyone. There are a lot worse things one could be doing.


October 18th, 2010
9:45 am

See your daughter could be innocently be on there and Twit could be tracking her. Too many perv’s. You have to be hip in a screwed up world.


October 18th, 2010
9:48 am

Oh the horror! C’mon people – how stupid are you? Hmmmm…let’s see: Facebook site created and users openly provide demographic info that advertisers DREAM OF – both demographical and purchase/lifestyle choices (”liking” a particular product, form of entertainment, etc.) – then you are SHOCKED that this info is being mined/sliced-diced/reported to the highest bidder….HOW ON EARTH DO YOU THINK ZUCKY IS WORTH BILLIONS? It’s called business intelligence – look it up.

Motocross Survivor

October 18th, 2010
9:52 am

FB has its uses. I can see old friends and acquaintances I haven’t seen or heard from in years. I can see pictures of people and things that bring back floods of memories, so for a guy like me, it’s okay if taken in proper doses. But I am constantly amused by these “FB losers” who do nothing but report the most mundane of their daily activities all day…e.g.” I just burned my little finger. OUCH !!” with 4 people liking this. LOL! Pretty pathetic. All the yaya sisterhood sugar wind babble is funny too, e.g. “Way to go girlfriend/girly… love ya,” etc etc.) This crap goes on all day long with these silly people and the phony intimacy does get thick.

Time Waster

October 18th, 2010
10:08 am

If Facebook is for losers, then posting about it is even worse.


October 18th, 2010
10:18 am

You are right. If you enjoy enteracting with family & friends via Facebook, thats not a waste of time for you. I like Facebook & I get to find out a lot about what’s going on with my family & friends. I also enjoy looking at the photos. So, to each his/her own.

Chode McBlob

October 18th, 2010
10:23 am

Facebook. I have no use for it.


October 18th, 2010
10:24 am

You beat me to it Time Waster. Keeping up with classmates and army buddies is worth it, but reading these mindless post is a waste of time.


October 18th, 2010
10:49 am

Never post anything on the internet that you would not put on a billboard in Times Square.


October 18th, 2010
10:50 am

AJ, FACEBOOK is Not For Loosers! I know because I saw your account!!


October 18th, 2010
11:02 am

I don’t think people are “too cool” for Facebook but rather they are “TOO GROWN” for silly azz facebook. Facebook is for needy people who NEED friends.. IF you REALLY wanted to keep up with your HS buddies, then you would have kept in contact with them.. OLD SCHOOL STYLE.. IE: Phone #’s, Addresses etc..

Casual Facebook user

October 18th, 2010
11:03 am

I am on Facebook to keep up with the young people in my life. My daughter, nieces, nephews, etc. The first time someone asked me to join them on an app, a pop-up appeared that told me I was sharing my entire facebook database if I agreed to the app. I declined. Since then I don’t use any of those greedy apps. They are only created to steal your friendlist and all their information. Including TELEPHONE NUMBERS that have just started appearing now. Read what is put before you and pay attention!

Half Staffed

October 18th, 2010
11:06 am

The obsession and time wasted on Facebook is incredible. Why would anyone put so much information out there for anyone to get? Oh I forgot, we’re all so important and everyone is so interested. Losers.


October 18th, 2010
11:25 am

Ummm…yes, FB is for losers. You say it’s about being social? You’re not being social; you’re sitting behind a computer with no actual human interaction. Social networking sites have depersonalized everything. No one has to invest time and energy in really getting to know a person anymore and it makes it way too easy to let someone go. I guarantee sites like FB lead to more and more people living in silos, becoming social outcasts and becoming pale obese monsters. It’s no different that the Dungeon and Dragons people you all made fun of for not living in reality.

There is no subsitute for actual human interaction. FB ruins that. People won’t grow up socially. And you can’t have virtual relationships. If you can’t live your life in real life, then yes, you are a loser (Facebook user).


October 18th, 2010
11:29 am

Are y’all serious? As someone else said, JUST DON’T USE THE APPS. It’s not a Facebook problem. It’s a user problem.


October 18th, 2010
11:29 am

FB Lover – I bet you also love sitting on the couch playing video games and stuffing ding dongs down your throat while never meeting any actual people. Tell your mom to iron my shirt by the way when you come out of the basement.

There’s a huge difference between wasting your time with people outside and wasting your time in seclusion. Think about it. Log off for a little while and see how well you do with real people. There’s a difference. You cannot build a real relationship with a person online. Unless you plan to spend your life alone you’ve got to have more than FB.

FB Lover

October 18th, 2010
11:39 am

@ Realist: You have no idea. Rule #1: Don’t ASSume you know someone by a few sentences posted on newspaper web blog,okay? I meet and interact with lots of people — US citizens and people for different countries — on a daily basis. I just find that it is easier to keep up with important people in my life via FB than by US snail mail and I actually hate talking on the phone. But that’s just me. You are wrong that one cannot forge meaniful relationships with people online. You must be stuck in 1969. BTW, I don’t live in my mom’s basement, but thank you for mentioning her. She is a very progressive senior citizen, a retire attorney who also enjoys using FB.

So thank you and have a nice REAL day!

FB Lover

October 18th, 2010
11:39 am

Enter your comments here

Victory Waters

October 18th, 2010
12:01 pm

The only time I use facebook is to publicize certain things or to look up a particular possible business connection. I link stuff for people to WATCH & VOTE on my facebook page but that’s the only way some of the contests work. I’m not a 18yr old so my social network isn’t vast with folks who have nothing else to do but hit VOTE everyday WITHOUT reminders. Facebook allows me to REMIND the busy folks.


October 18th, 2010
12:01 pm

For all of you complaining about SPAM, do you seriously use your personal email account to set up your profiles? Therein lies one of the problems, don’t use one email account to sign up for things. I set up a dummy account that I use for FB and any other sites that require an email address so that I don’t receive any SPAM. Problem solved.


October 18th, 2010
12:21 pm

I’m old school and only post enough information for other people to find me and exchange emails. I do not post status updates nor friend anyone. Also, BING reached a deal with FB, and BING will run searches through the FB database, making the results available for BING users. How do you like them apples!


October 18th, 2010
12:30 pm

Every time I consider joining Facebook, I stop at the registration page.

It asks for an absurd amount of personal information.

Then I recall that Facebook’s founder stole the concept from fellow students. And that he’s been consistently slippery and evasive when it comes to complaints about Facebook’s lack of privacy protection.

And I conclude that Mark Zuckerberg knows exactly what he’s doing and that he is and intendeds to profit from the massive amount of personal data people so willingly give him.

And I for the umpteenth time decline to register for Facebook.


October 18th, 2010
12:32 pm

All of you are living in the stone age, if you think FB is the only place to find out information on people, the internet is a great place to find anyone and the internet white pages, so unfortunately the days of being hidden in America have long been over. Just not FB, it is everywhere on the internet, like someone said when you log onto your computer you have given up all your privacy. Wish these so called smart people would channel their energy into cancer research or finding other ways to help human, instead of trying to STEAL something that was never theirs…


October 18th, 2010
12:37 pm

AJ.. facebook is a waste of time for losers…. and blogs are?