Earlier this month, the BBC technology television show, Click, reported that their developer was legitimately able to use a 3rd party Facebook application to retrieve private information from Facebook users who have specifically asked to keep this type of data private. Now, 3rd party applications on Facebook are beginning to steal user identities for the sake of spamming.
Today, I noticed one of my Facebook friend, Michelle (her name has been changed to protect her identity), left a comment on my wall. The comment included a link to some shaddy website offering “legal bud”. Shortly after, I noticed many of my common friends with Michelle also received the same comment on their walls. It turned out that a 3rd party Facebook application that Michelle had installed auto-spammed all of her friends. In fact, the rogue application even took over her status and states that she has “found some potent legal bud”.
First, Facebook allowed 3rd party applications to retrieve their user’s private information. Now, they have allowed a rogue 3rd party application provider to take over commenting and status of their users. What’s next? Will Facebook user data get sold to anyone willing to pay for it? I can accept advertising based on the info I provide in my profile, but taking over commenting and user status is pushing behavioral targeting to a rogue level.
It looks like Facebook is allowing 3rd party applications to pretty much do whatever they want. How will Facebook move forward to address these privacy concerns and better protect their users? Does it mean moving all 3rd party applications in-house so that they run on Facebook servers rather than off-site? That is exactly how MySpace keeps tabs on their applications. Facebook can definitely learn from MySpace in this particular instance and implement immediate changes that will better protect their users.
If Facebook privacy issues continue to surface at they have recently, I will not be the only one requesting for a cancellation of my account. Anyone else got auto wall spam’ed yet?