Six Facebook Privacy Blunders - Slide 2

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In May 2011, it was reported that more than 500 million people who use Facebook may have been put at risk after it was discovered that users' personal information has been leaked to third-party companies.

Symantec discovered that close to 100,000 applications were inadvertently leaking millions of access tokens to third parties like advertisers or analytic platforms. These access tokens allow Facebook applications to access personal profile information, photographs and chat logs. According to Symantec's blog, third parties also had the ability to post messages and mine personal information. Says Symantec:

We estimate that over the years, hundreds of thousands of applications may have inadvertently leaked millions of access tokens to third parties.

However, the company goes on to say:

There is no good way to estimate how many access tokens have already been leaked since the release of Facebook applications back in 2007. We fear a lot of these tokens might still be available in log files of third-party servers or still being actively used by advertisers.

Over the years, Facebook has developed features and made policy changes that have routinely put privacy advocates on the warpath, so much so that blogger Lora Bentley wonders if they don’t pay people to dream up new ways to annoy them.

Despite the privacy concerns, Facebook remains hugely popular and as a company appears set on the path to constantly push the privacy boundary.  A reader from The New York Times summed it up this way:

When will the great analysts of today finally get it? We, the 20-somethings of today, are not that concerned about privacy. Facebook has become a way of life.

This slideshow features some of Facebook’s more spectacular blunders.

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Related Topics : Symantec, Spyware, Supercomputing, HIPAA, Privacy

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