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By 1 November 2010 | Categories: news

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Facebook, being the world's premier social networking website, aren't exactly strangers to controversy, especially regarding its users' privacy.

Last month the controversial spark was reignited by a Wall Street Journal article which claimed that third-party application developers were selling Facebook user information to the highest bidder.

In an announcement published last Friday on the Facebook developers' blog, the management of the site admitted that a data broker had been paying certain application developers to provide them with identifying user information.
 
According to the WSJ, the information sent by these apps include Facebook ID numbers, which can be used to look up a user's name, and other publicly available information on the site. This is then used by companies to build up online profiles of people by tracking their online activities.
 
This of course is a major violation of Facebook's privacy policies. The site announced that it had placed some developers on a six-month suspension from the site since the breach.
 
Facebook didn't name the data broker which had been allowed to buy the ID's, but it said it had reached an agreement with RapLeaf Inc. It's unclear as to whether RapLeaf is the guilty party, a Facebook statement called it, “the data broker who came forward to work with us on this situation.”
 
At this stage it is unclear whether Facebook is implicating RapLeaf or whether any legal action will follow. Under the new agreement RapLeaf agreed to delete all Facebook user ID's it possessed and also agreed, “not to conduct any activities on the Facebook Platform” in the future.
 
In its official blog post Facebook sad it has a zero tolerance policy against data brokers, saying they, “undermine the value that users have come to expect from Facebook.”
 
It must be noted that those users who had their security settings set to private didn't have their data sold or accessed by the data brokers, so if you haven't done this yet we would highly suggest it.

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