Breaking: FarmVille, Facebook apps busted for sharing your personal info with advertisers

farmville, facebook apps privacy breech discovered by WSJ -
farmville, facebook apps privacy breech discovered by WSJ -

The Wall Street Journal reports that top Facebook applications, including FarmVille, Zynga Texas Hold 'Em Poker and FrontierVille, have been sharing your Facebook ID number to advertising and Internet tracking companies without your knowledge.

This is a violation of Facebook policy, which prohibits app makers from sharing your personal information to outside companies without "explicit user consent."

"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."

Facebook responded in this blog post, saying that the WSJ report is 'exaggerated' and that developers unintentionally shared user info with outside companies.

"Recently, it has come to our attention that several applications built on Facebook Platform were passing the User ID (UID), an identifier that we use within our APIs, in a manner that violated this policy. In most cases, developers did not intend to pass this information, but did so because of the technical details of how browsers work.

Press reports have exaggerated the implications of sharing a UID. Knowledge of a UID does not enable anyone to access private user information without explicit user consent. Nevertheless, we are committed to ensuring that even the inadvertent passing of UIDs is prevented and all applications are in compliance with our policy."

In the meantime, Facebook has shut down several applications that violate this policy (including several from Critter Island maker LOL Apps) and are hunting for a larger solution to make sure your information is kept safe and away from the hands of data mining companies.

"We have experience addressing this sort of issue previously, although the technical challenges here are greater. We are talking with our key partners and the broader Web community about possible solutions. We will have more details over the course of the next few days."

Facebook has been taking a well-publicized beating this year on user privacy, and this news will certainly not help the social network's 500+ million users feel confident that their personal information is safe, despite recent efforts to do just that.

We've contacted FarmVille-maker Zynga for an official comment. Stay tuned.

Are you surprised that your info may have been leaked to advertisers and data collection companies? Will you stop playing Facebook games until this problem is solved? Sound off in the comments. Add comment.