|Forum topic by Dick, & Barb Cain||posted 1693 days ago||858 views||0 times favorited||22 replies|
1693 days ago
I’ve always been hesitant about joining facebook. This article kind of hit home to me.
After reading this I don’t think I’ve missed much of anything.
SAN JOSE, Calif. — Privacy advocates have long warned that users of Facebook and other social networks who seek amusement from quizzes like “What Simpsons Character Are You?” might be mortified by the way creators of such applications can access and potentially “scrape” personal information — not just about the quiz-takers, but their friends.
Now, engaging in some online jujitsu, the ACLU of Northern California is employing a cautionary Facebook quiz of its own to illustrate how quizzes that may seem “perfectly harmless” can release an array of data to the wider world — including users’ “religion, sexual orientation, political affiliation, photos, events, notes, wall posts, and groups.”
The app, titled “What Do Facebook Quizzes Know About You?” delivers its answer by opening a window that scrolls biographical data, attributed comments and photos.
More than 8,000 participants had taken the ACLU’s quiz by Wednesday, a few days after it was released. The group hopes to prompt Facebook to upgrade privacy default settings for its
250 million-plus users.
One helpful upgrade, the civil liberties group said, would be for Facebook to “change default privacy settings so that quizzes and other third-party applications run by a user’s friends do not have access to the information on a user’s profile without the user’s opt-in consent.”
Facebook users considering such applications as quizzes typically see a page that provides a choice of “allow” or “cancel.” The boilerplate language notes that allowing access “will let it pull your profile information, photos, your friends’ info, and other content that it requires to work.” But many Facebook users ignore the warning or don’t comprehend the potential risks, the ACLU said.
The Palo Alto, Calif.-based service has been buffeted by criticism from a variety of privacy advocates, and in some cases has found ways to resolve complaints. “We’ve also had productive discussions with the Cana dian Privacy Commissioner about improving user data controls on Platform,” said Barry Schnitt, Facebook’s director of policy communications. “We’d be glad to also have productive discussions with the ACLU and generally catch them up, too.”
Chris Conley, a technology fellow with the ACLU, said creating a Facebook quiz seemed an apt means for spreading word about privacy risks inherent in such apps. “We wanted to use Facebook itself to show how all these quiz creators have access to personal information,” Conley said.
It is difficult to know how third-party app developers use the data, which can be collected and sold for marketing and advertising campaigns, Conley said. Private investigators and political entities are known to create dossiers using technologies that automatically scour the Web. An individual bombarded by spam, for example, may have been targeted because of an affiliation posted on Facebook.
The text of ACLU’s quiz put it in ominous terms: “Once details about your personal life are collected by a quiz developer, who knows where they could end up or how they could be used. Shared? Sold? Turned over to the government?”
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