Data Broker Paid for Facebook UIDs, App Developers Suspended

Lora Bentley

Between smartphone patent litigation and Facebook or Google privacy issues, sometimes I feel like a broken record. (Does that analogy even mean anything anymore?) I've already written about patent lawsuits today, so...


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If Facebook can remember these five facts about user privacy, their headaches may begin to fade.

According to The Wall Street Journal, Facebook has suspended certain application developers for six months after learning that those developers sold user data to brokers. The announcement follows an investigation into what Facebook at first thought were inadvertent data leaks on behalf of the developers. In a Friday blog post, Facebook's Mike Vernal said:

As we examined the circumstances of inadvertent UID transfers, we discovered some instances where a data broker was paying developers for UIDs. ... [T]his violation of our policy is something we take seriously.

Hence the suspensions.


But six months? What is that really-a slap on the wrist? Does that effectively deliver the message that Facebook does not tolerate those who violate its policies? I would say not, but maybe that's not the question that needs to be asked. What if Facebook just explicitly said, "If you participate, we will use your information to provide relevant ad content as well as other opportunities that might be of interest?" Since that's the direction the Internet seems to be moving anyway, why not just go there?


Then the users are forced to make a conscious and deliberate choice about whether to participate at all and, if so, how much. Facebook would be able to spend more time improving its offerings and less time mollifying the masses. What do you think? Would the idea fly?

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