Recent allegations have cited Facebook’s latest privacy breach as an opportunity for application software companies to inherit substantial monetary gain.
An investigation conducted by the Wall Street Journal earlier this month found that popular and frequently used Facebook applications breached privacy policies by “transmitting identifying information – in effect, providing people’s names and, in some cases, their friends’ names to dozens of advertising and Internet tracking companies.”
In light of the investigation, already wary Facebook users must now become even more cautious of the possible implications of using the website. Certainly, a substantial amount of trust for this social networking site has been lost.
With the released information, companies were able to access users’ names despite privacy settings. Users who believe their names and user IDs are protected by high level privacy policies are mistaken.
According to the New York Times, Facebook has begun working with application developers to create preventative measures to stop future information leaks. Facebook and its largest application companies must now face the proceeding legalities associated with privacy protection laws.
Some argue that the situation has been blown out of proportion and that the leaking of a mere user ID is not a serious matter. However, the fact that it even happened should make users pause.
Users may not fully understand the negative implications of providing personal information to a social networking site, such as Facebook, because the privacy policies seem reassuring.
However, given the situation at hand, Facebook’s privacy policies have faltered and left cracks in users’ trust of the site, begging the question of what cracks will emerge next. Will predators or identity thieves find a way to take advantage of the next opportunity?
When privacy is promised, it must be delivered, particularly within such a sensitive and dangerous medium as the Internet. At this point, it is fair to question Facebook’s ability to uphold the privacy that it promises.
Tara Petzoldt is a sophomore majoring in mass communications.