Facebook and others caught sending user data to advertisers

By on May 21, 2010 at 7:09 AM.

Facebook and others caught sending user data to advertisers

big-brother

Another day, another scandal involving social media websites. Today the Wall Street Journal is reporting that Facebook — along with MySpace, LiveJournal, Hi5, Xanga, Digg and Twitter — have been sending personal information about their users to advertisers without consent. Depending on how much information users opted to make public on their profile, advertising firms such as Google’s DoubleClick and Yahoo’s Right Media were able to obtain information as innocuous as the user’s ID to their hometown and occupation, all without the expressed consent of the account holder. Not surprisingly given what we’ve learned over the past few weeks, the WSJ said the worst offender is Facebook. Not only did it pass on information about the people that clicked on ads, but it also sent out information about the person whose profile the ad originated from. The WSJ had an assistant professor from the Harvard Business school evaluate code found on Facebook’s site and ultimately concluded that “if you are looking at your profile page and you click on an ad, you are telling that advertiser who you are.” Facebook was contacted about the matter, but claimed “we were recently made aware of one case where if a user takes a specific route on the site, advertisers may see that they clicked on their own profile and then clicked on an ad,” adding that “we fixed this case as soon as we heard about it.” For its role, MySpace said it is “currently implementing a methodology that will obfuscate the ‘FriendID’ in any URL that is passed along to advertisers.” Twitter simply stated that “this is just how the Internet and browsers work” when users click a link, and Digg denied any wrongdoing claiming it only passes on “information about the page that you are visiting, not you as a visitor” and that the initiating user’s ID is concealed. Both Google and Yahoo said they did not actively seek specific information about user IDs.

What do you think, folks? Does this confirm your worst fears about the ethics of the people running your favorite social media site, or is everything being blown way out of proportion? More →

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Hi5 Goes Mobile and Takes on the World

By on August 27, 2008 at 10:43 AM.

Hi5 Goes Mobile and Takes on the World

The internationally popular social network Hi5 launched a mobile version (m.hi5.com) of its website this week. The mobile website will allow Hi5 users to send and receive messages, add / request new friends, view friend’s profiles and make comments and also view the real-time status of other members online. With support for 26 languages, Hi5’s mobile website targets the growing number of international users, who unlike their American counterparts, are more likely to use a mobile device to access the internet than a PC. Creating this “culturally relevant” social network and providing it to the world has been Hi5’s strategy and it has worked.  According to ComScore, hi5 grew 79% in the first half of 2008 with the number of unique visitors increasing from 31.4 million in December 2007 to 56.4 million in June 2008. That is more than twice the growth rate of any of the other top 10 social networks! Keep those rates up and they will be poised on the cusp of world domination.

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