Facebook users don’t have to use dubious apps on the social network to be at risk of a privacy breach. The Wall Street Journal reports that all ten of Facebook’s most popular apps - including Zynga’s Farmville - transmit user information to “at least 25” data mining and advertising firms, in apparent contravention of both Facebook and industry standards.
Three of those apps - including the farming sim, which has reportedly amassed in excess of 59 million users - went a step further, passing on “personal information about a user's friends”.
Defenders of the practice claim it’s only the user’s unique, numeric “Facebook ID” being shared - not their name. However from that ID, companies can extract at the bare minimum a user’s name if a user has set all their information to “private," through to pictures, age, location and other details if they haven’t. Data mining outfits in turn marry up information gleaned from Facebook to their own databases for commercial use.
A Facebook spokesperson stated they were "committed to addressing" the issue, and had started shutting down offending applications.