Facebook and MySpace Privacy End Around

Facebook and MySpace Privacy End Around

Image Courtesy Of the Pittsburgh Tribune Review

I don't know about you, but I would just as soon somebody tell me the truth than lie to MY FACE. (pun intended) On Friday May 21, 2010 Yahoo! News released this story - Facebook, MySpace caught releasing user data

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ynews/20100521/tc_ynews/ynews_tc2189 . Here’s an excerpt, “The report says that the companies have delivered user data to major online advertising companies such as Google's DoubleClick and Yahoo!'s Right Media, despite explicit pledges to protect such information.”

This makes complete sense. Facebook and MySpace have no interest in protecting our data. They say so right here http://www.facebook.com/terms.php , especially when they can make money giving away our data to developers of Facebook apps, advertisers, and other direct marketing networks. The currency is the data that we've all provided for free. This encourages developers and marketers to pay Facebook and that's their bottom line and their allegiance.

To give you an idea of what I'm talking about, this is the link to the Facebook API developers documentation -


A synopsis of the previous link is listed here:


Returns a wide array of user-specific information for each user identifier passed, limited by the view of the current user. The current user is determined from the session_key parameter.

Use this call to get user data that you intend to display to other users (of your application, for example). If you need some basic information about a user for analytics purposes, call users.getStandardInfo instead.

This call no longer requires a session key. However, if you call this method without a session key, you can only get the following information:

  • uid
  • first_name
  • middle_name
  • last_name
  • name
  • locale
  • current_location
  • affiliations (regional type only)
  • pic_square
  • profile_url
  • sex

You can call this method as soon as a user authorizes your application. If you do so, you can get the same information as you can without a session (see above).

User Privacy and Visible Data

Important: Depending upon the user's privacy settings (including whether the user has decided to opt out of the Platform completely), you may not see certain user data. For any user submitted to this method, the following user fields are visible to an application only if that user has authorized that application:

  • meeting_for
  • meeting_sex
  • religion
  • significant_other_id

In addition, the visibility of all fields, with the exception of first_name, last_name, name, pic, sex, current_location, affiliations, and uid may be restricted by the user's Facebook privacy settings in relation to the calling user (the user associated with the current session). “

The long and the short of it is this – your name and location data, regional affiliations, pictures, sex, religion and any other data you have provided may be exposed and free for the taking. Worse yet it may already be distributed despite setting the privacy for your page. Remember the Facebook privacy glitch a few weeks back that reset the privacy settings when Facebook upgraded their policy? There you go. A glitch? Or a 52 fake-out to make your info public?

If this doesn't anger you after you've been told that your data is safe and private, I don't know what will. The Facebook and MySpace services are not that important to me to give away my private data. If someone wants to sell me ads I would like to see them have to work a little harder.

With all the Facebook privacy changes lately and all the bad press they have been receiving, one would think they would take a more active role and be more public in their disclosure of these problems. That's just not in their best interest and why this post calls their tactics an end around.

Pittsburgh Online Marketing Services by Blackball Online Marketing tries to inform its readers about the privacy and security issues of their social media experience. Our motto is “Helping People is Good Business”. Please tell us what you think…

Tags: advertisers, Facebook, Marketing, myspace, Pittsburgh, pittsburgh tribune review, Social Media

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