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Facebook Punishes Devs Who Shared User IDs

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the barn-doors-and-horses dept.

Facebook 71

A couple weeks ago, we discussed news that some Facebook application developers were selling or accidentally sharing user IDs to advertisers and data brokers in violation of Facebook's privacy terms. Now, the company writes that they've updated the policy to dictate how UIDs can be handled within applications, and also punished the offending developers by blocking access to the site's communication channels for a period of six months. Quoting: "While we determined that no private user data was sold and confirmed that transfer of these UIDs did not give access to any private data, this violation of our policy is something we take seriously. As such, we are taking action against these developers by instituting a 6-month full moratorium on their access to Facebook communication channels, and we will require these developers to submit their data practices to an audit in the future to confirm that they are in compliance with our policies. This impacts fewer than a dozen, mostly small developers, none of which are in the top 10 applications on Facebook Platform. We have also reached an agreement with Rapleaf, the data broker who came forward to work with us on this situation. Rapleaf has agreed to delete all UIDs in its possession, and they have agreed not to conduct any activities on the Facebook Platform (either directly or indirectly) going forward."

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Right ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34093554)

So, Facebook turns on all of your private data and makes it public -- that's business as usual.

One of their devs does more or less the same thing, and Facebook is outraged?

I would believe Facebook why?

Re:Right ... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34093664)

Because only Facebook is allowed to profit from the data that they collect. Isn't it obvious? These other developers were cutting into the profit stream and that is against the terms of service.

Re:Right ... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34094676)

So why isn't Zynga being punished?

Re:Right ... (2, Insightful)

The Archon V2.0 (782634) | more than 3 years ago | (#34095154)

So why isn't Zynga being punished?

How do you punish the biggest game company on the planet? That's like trying to punish Microsoft because your webpage doesn't render well in IE.

Re:Right ... (4, Insightful)

eln (21727) | more than 3 years ago | (#34095236)

Because Zynga is more powerful than Facebook itself. If Facebook tries to fuck with Farmville its entire over-30 female population will riot in the streets.

Re:Right ... (4, Insightful)

jgagnon (1663075) | more than 3 years ago | (#34093688)

I'm still trying to wrap my brain around the idea that Facebook has a privacy policy.

Re:Right ... (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34093708)

They don't, they have a PR policy.

Re:Right ... (1)

ArundelCastle (1581543) | more than 3 years ago | (#34095620)

They don't, they have a PR policy.

Fortunately Privacy and PR have at least two letters in common. So it's like the same thing, only shorter to read...

Re:Right ... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34093752)

I'm still trying to wrap my brain around the idea that Facebook has a privacy policy.

It's easier when you don't take sensationalist headlines at face value.

Re:Right ... (1)

rijrunner (263757) | more than 3 years ago | (#34095380)

    Facebook's business is selling that information. They really, really do not want to lose the monopoly and ability to monetize it any way they can.

    So, of course, they are going to crack down on others selling information that facebook has so carefully accumulated.

   

Hurray! (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34093564)

Zoidberg can use Facebook again!

Re:Hurray! (1)

davester666 (731373) | more than 3 years ago | (#34098290)

It just means these companies didn't kick some of the money they made over to Facebook, like all the bigger guys did.

They just don't wanna share... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34093584)

The only one allowed to harvest and sell your data on facebook is facebook.

Re:They just don't wanna share... (2, Funny)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 3 years ago | (#34095818)

The only one allowed to harvest and sell your data on facebook is facebook.

I like how you made it into a Farmville analogy.

Translation (5, Insightful)

errxn (108621) | more than 3 years ago | (#34093620)

Rapleaf has agreed to delete all UIDs in its possession, and they have agreed not to conduct any activities on the Facebook Platform (either directly or indirectly) going forward.

Translation: If Rapleaf wants to see the sun rise tomorrow, they will do *exactly* as we say.

Sincerely, Facebook's Legal Team.

Re:Translation (1)

thePowerOfGrayskull (905905) | more than 3 years ago | (#34094202)

Further translation:

This impacts fewer than a dozen, mostly small developers, none of which are in the top 10 applications on Facebook Platform.

This is great press, but really doesn't affect anybody except for a handful of people so we can do it without concern for repercussions.

Re:Translation (5, Insightful)

Pharmboy (216950) | more than 3 years ago | (#34094582)

Or to further translate:

This isn't being done by companies that pouring money into Facebook like Zynga.

If Zynga has been the offending party, do you *really* think they would kick Zynga off for 6 months, and cut their revenue by 90%? I don't think so. The only reason they are being "tough" on "these companies" is that "these companies" don't contribute in any significant way to their bottom line.

Re:Translation (1)

sortadan (786274) | more than 3 years ago | (#34095306)

Wasn't Farmville one of the ones that WAS accused of sharing the userID? wsj story [wsj.com]

Re:Translation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34096274)

No. Farmville was one of the ones that was accused of harvesting the userID; they were not accused of "sharing the userID to advertisers and data brokers" which is the only behavior that Facebook said they're punishing.

Makes sense. FB isn't upset that those companies collected the information about you which FB shared with them -- FB is upset that those companies provided that information to someone else whom FB didn't get a chance to bill for it.

Re:Translation (1)

Pharmboy (216950) | more than 3 years ago | (#34096674)

whom FB didn't get a chance to bill for it.

We have a winner! It is all about the money. Neither Facebook, nor any other website, truly gives a rats ass about your privacy, only the marketability of what you provide to them. Make no mistake, any website, ANY, would sell your mother to the devil for a dollar. Even Google. Hell, ESPECIALLY GOOGLE.

Re:Translation (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34094520)

Bah... No impact.

At which point Rapleaf immediately declares bankruptcy and a new corporation called RapTwig comes into being. RapTwig being a new entity CAN conduct any business they wish...
 

Pffft (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34093662)

So much shit I don't even care for people who still use that exploitation site.

Re:Pffft (1)

jgagnon (1663075) | more than 3 years ago | (#34093930)

So... do you hand out little cards to people you know with Facebook accounts that say "My lack-of-caring-list welcomes YOU as its latest entry!"?

In Soviet Russia (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34094122)

Little card hands out YOU!

read between the lines (3, Interesting)

Skarecrow77 (1714214) | more than 3 years ago | (#34093690)

"While we determined that no private user data was sold..."

Isn't this one of the companies (along with google) that declared that "privacy on the web no longer exists" or something along those lines?

hence, no "private user data" can be sold because all user data is public, therefore no crime has been committed.

Re:read between the lines (4, Interesting)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 3 years ago | (#34094014)

Exactly, but we've been setting up these double standards where nearly every country in the world has slammed Google for collecting private data for themselves (which of course they claim is an accident), and then Facebook essentially lets any app developer do the same thing (again unintentional).

Now the developers have actually gone and made money off that data, and now less than a dozen of the smallest targets are getting picked off.How on Earth is that fair?

IF we're going to get mad at Google for roaming around in a car picking up SSID's than WHY can't we get mad at Zynga for taking whatever information they have about me and making money by selling it? If the argument is that "it's public anyways, anyone can just look it up" for your facebook info, why is listening to unsecured wifi considered illegal?

I don't really care if the law went one way or the other, (Well I have my preferences), but its far more annoying when its inconsistant rather than my way.

Re:read between the lines (1)

twright0 (1877370) | more than 3 years ago | (#34096650)

IF we're going to get mad at Google for roaming around in a car picking up SSID's than WHY can't we get mad at Zynga for taking whatever information they have about me and making money by selling it?

Because Zynga only gets the data that YOU give them; you ultimately have control over how much information Zynga gets about you. Don't want them to have information about you? Don't use their applications.

Re:read between the lines (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34097670)

Because Zynga only gets the data that YOU give them

Wrong. That's not the problem here. The problem is that anybody who knows someone who plays a Zynga game got their uid leaked.

Re:read between the lines (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34096878)

I don't believe anyone made money off of this accidental data sharing. The issue was that UIDs were being passed to third parties via a referrer URL. No one was selling this data.

Re:read between the lines (1)

thetartanavenger (1052920) | more than 3 years ago | (#34099664)

Now the developers have actually gone and made money off that data, and now less than a dozen of the smallest targets are getting picked off.How on Earth is that fair?

Not to nitpick, but when has the world ever been fair?

Re:read between the lines (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34149194)

Well, to be fair, there's a difference between collecting SSIDs (which are tossed out into the air by routers) and sharing information users have entrusted in you.

Re:read between the lines (1)

AnonymousClown (1788472) | more than 3 years ago | (#34094034)

"While we determined that no private user data was sold..."

Isn't this one of the companies (along with google) that declared that "privacy on the web no longer exists" or something along those lines?

hence, no "private user data" can be sold because all user data is public, therefore no crime has been committed.

Q.E.D.

Re:read between the lines (1)

interkin3tic (1469267) | more than 3 years ago | (#34094094)

Isn't this one of the companies (along with google) that declared that "privacy on the web no longer exists" or something along those lines?

I was under the impression that was just the CEO making an ill-advised statement. I don't think that's officially company policy.

FaceBook is after Richard M Stallman: copyleft (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34095314)

The world and the verry NATURE of corporations is all private to divert liability from the public, as in to paradigm shift the blame of possible wrong-doing or damages.

Facebook is doing to the world like what Richard M Stallman does with "copyleft", in that because life is all about balancing between necessities and excess and individuality and community, FaceBook is using private laws to circularly annul anything left of private matters, only the difference is instead of deriving said communal rights from the public patroons we are all being coralled into the visage of FaceBook rather than our home countries.

I find it odd that in the United States there are corporations that take-on the task of administratively annuling inherint and non-alienable rights of the people and then behave like Legislatures when doing it retro-judiciously at their own shipping-clerks using every tactic from Libel of Review to Acceleration of debt-collection. Sure, you may ask why bother live in the United States when we all can live in FaceBook or England/Scotland/Disneyland under the fetter-all charters established by the prime corporatists waging their wars against commoners of the King's Bench and privy-liege? Maybe it's the benefits! Can someone really terminate their ward/citizenship to an aerial principality that one must tele-commune/tele-commute "into" every day just to maintain the post/mails?

Making an example (3, Interesting)

mr100percent (57156) | more than 3 years ago | (#34093724)

Interesting. If you want to make an example out of them, then this seems effective. Still, would they have been so harsh against a dev if they were in the top 10? What if Zynga had done this, do you think FB would have banned them for months?

Re:Making an example (1)

grnbrg (140964) | more than 3 years ago | (#34093982)

What if Zynga had done this, do you think FB would have banned them for months?

"I felt a great disturbance in the Force, as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced. I fear something terrible has happened."

MOD PARENT FLAMEBAIT. (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34094018)

you're really comparing the destruction of a world and the murder of billions of people with a few million people not being able to play their beloved farmville? you're a fucking idiot, do you know that.

Re:MOD PARENT FLAMEBAIT. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34094150)

Indeed [jacksonville.com] .

Re:MOD PARENT FLAMEBAIT. (1)

joebagodonuts (561066) | more than 3 years ago | (#34094688)

Modded "flamebait" because there is no "idiotic" mod? Yes, the plot twist in a beloved movie is roughly the equivalent to people being unable to play a beloved game.

Re:MOD PARENT FLAMEBAIT. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34094736)

Given that the world was fictitious, and so are the inhabitants of the farmville farms, I would say it's a fair comparison.

Re:MOD PARENT FLAMEBAIT. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34096844)

Given that the world was fictitious,

Blasphemer! Heretic! We'll find you and skewer you with our light sabers!

Couldn't (2, Insightful)

vxice (1690200) | more than 3 years ago | (#34093730)

You just operate for a while collect a bunch of ids, seems like something you would need to track accounts, and once you have a worth treasure trove take the slap on the wrist but only after you have transfered all your applications to another 'developer'?

Uhhh... (1)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 3 years ago | (#34093744)

This impacts fewer than a dozen, mostly small developers, none of which are in the top 10 applications on Facebook Platform.

Why not? Are you trying to suggest that they don't have these practices, or they simply haven't been caught doing it, or they've got the money to grease palms or hire lawyers?

Scope of the crime? (2, Insightful)

s.d. (33767) | more than 3 years ago | (#34093754)

Those stories about the great privacy terms violations said that Zynga, via Farmville, was a big offender (the story linked to in the back link to the older Slashdot article says this, in fact).

I wonder if they say "anyone who grabs the UID is punished" b/c that freed up some of their biggest developers, like Zynga, who were doing other bad stuff, but not that bad (for some subjective definition of bad)?

Re:Scope of the crime? (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34093886)

According to the Wall Street Journal:
"The Journal found that all of the 10 most popular apps on Facebook were transmitting users' IDs to outside companies."
from http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304772804575558484075236968.html?mod=what_they_know

I too am puzzled.

Re:Scope of the crime? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34094242)

10 ten most popular apps keep people on Facebook. People would go somewhere else if these apps were to vanish for 6 months and Facebook can't have that. So punish some small time developers, ones that

Re:Scope of the crime? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34094090)

Zynga will be punished, but Zinga is rapidly rolling out new applications. This is an intentionally meaningless "punishment"

Dog & Pony show (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34093766)

When your entire profit structure is dependent on not keeping users' data private, and your company's founder shows an active disdain for users who give him their information, this is at best a lame attempt at good PR.

Great platform security there... (1)

netsharc (195805) | more than 3 years ago | (#34093862)

So yeah, instead of making a platform where they guard user's data privacy, their policy to prevent abuse is a rule that says "you are not allowed to do this", with no effective way of policing whether or not someone's doing it.

This is like leaving your computer with your private information open to remote logins, with a blank password, announcing on the internet that they can use your computer (for whatever reason there may be) and then saying, "but don't be reading my private information mmmkay?"

Morons...

Re:Great platform security there... (1)

Greguar (1225686) | more than 3 years ago | (#34094418)

This is the continuation of Facebook's rubber-band of privacy policy. First, they open up a grievous hole. Then, there's an inevitable tide of user outrage, usually coinciding with a Facebook group complaining about it and threatening mass exodus, creating tension on the rubber band. Eventually, the tension overcomes Facebook's inertia and motivates them to fix the hole they created, jerking things forward to be briefly in sync with sensible standards, until they make the next grievous hole and start the stretching process again.

It's a game of seeing how much they can get away with and for how long, only addressing their own problems with minimal efforts when a snapping point nears. Eventually, there will be an API-level prevention of this sort of behaviour, only to be replaced with a new massive security hole.

Most users will just continue blissfully onward posting photos of themselves and friends engaged in compromising situations while under the influence of a wide array of intoxicants, with every sordid detail shared freely with prospective employers. Even iron-tight platform security can't cure the kind of stupid that is Facebook's bread and butter.

Horse - bolted (1)

wjousts (1529427) | more than 3 years ago | (#34093914)

This isn't even closing the door after the horse has bolted (data that's been sold, is sold, any it ain't coming back), this is shouting at somebody for walking out with the horse while still leaving the door wide open.

Re:Horse - bolted (1)

Abcd1234 (188840) | more than 3 years ago | (#34094282)

This isn't even closing the door after the horse has bolted (data that's been sold, is sold, any it ain't coming back)

Except the UIDs aren't *data*, per se. While it does allow the receiver of the data to track actions against individual users, which is bad, it doesn't grant them access to private profile data.

That doesn't make this excusable, as individual tracking is bad enough (although it can be just as easily achieved with simple cookies). But it's no massive privacy breach.

What about Zynga???????? (1)

tnerb123 (609955) | more than 3 years ago | (#34094460)

Interesting how the dont do anything about one of there bigger clients! Zynga has done it before and they havent done a thing about it! Yes for all you farmville people they have released data on you!

Only Facebook (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34094550)

Sorry, people, only Facebook is allowed to sell this information.
Nevermind that Zuckerbutt got his start by scraping websites by any means available.

This doesn't make any sense. (1)

fredmosby (545378) | more than 3 years ago | (#34094846)

There are only two possibilities here:

This was a misunderstanding, and the developers involved should get a warning.

This wasn't a misunderstanding, and the developers should be permanently banned to protect facebook users. Otherwise they will just look for other ways to sell data to make money.

Punishments are for dealing with children who don't know the difference between right and wrong. Adults don't generally change their opinions on what's right when they are punished.

Mafiawars (1)

Fuzzums (250400) | more than 3 years ago | (#34095278)

Zynga shares facebook user ids openly through mafia wars. The user images in mafiawars have the facebook ids in them.
I don't have to explain how to find the actual facebook page with that, do I?

Pot and kettle (1)

Solandri (704621) | more than 3 years ago | (#34096154)

Facebook: "Bad developers! You can't sell private user info to advertisers and data brokers. Only we are allowed to do that!"

So Zynga got booted? (1)

codepunk (167897) | more than 3 years ago | (#34096430)

So Zynga got booted? I am pretty sure that Zynga could do whatever they want and FB would not do a thing about it.

Pot, meet kettle (1)

RichiH (749257) | more than 3 years ago | (#34097226)

Sure, grandstanding on the issue of privacy while butt-raping it themselves will foil a lot of people. But the key phrase is:

"This impacts fewer than a dozen, mostly small developers, none of which are in the top 10 applications on Facebook Platform"

Would they have done the same if Zynga, which generates a ton of money for them and has a large legal team, had been affected? I guess not.

Facebook shocked, shocked at privacy problems (1)

David Gerard (12369) | more than 3 years ago | (#34099618)

Facebook staff have been amazed to discover that when Facebook passes users' complete details to application developers and advertisers, some of the partner companies might accidentally let slip the information in some manner [newstechnica.com] .

"We are appalled at this information leak," said Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg as he took a break from his personal RSS feed of drunk women's tits posted to his service. "But I can assure you that we have sternly suggested to everyone involved that they take somewhat greater care not to get caught, and maintain a serious demeanor when rolling around in the great big pit filled with money in their basement."

"I'm horrified and outraged," said office worker Brenda Busybody, 43 (IQ), "that stuff I put on the Internet is on the Internet. It violates everything I expect. I want privacy when I'm calling my boss a useless fuckstick to the entire world, all my coworkers and my boss himself. And when I'm playing a bit of FarmVille before we nick off down the pub."

Privacy advocates are working on Diaspora, a security-enhanced social network so far populated by Linux users who cryptographically sign every update about which episode of Babylon 5 they just finished watching alone in their parents' basement. "BEGIN PGP KEY BLOCK!" said open source software advocate Hiram Nerdboy, 17. "WE WILL PROTECT YOUR FREEDOMS!" The next version of Diaspora will allow users to list more than three friends, should there be any demand whatsoever for such a feature.

Facebook works on the now-standard "Web 2.0" business model: 1. Brutally sodomise the personal privacy of anyone who comes within a mile of your service and say "hey baby, I'm sorry" every time you're busted. 2. Sell ads.

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