Friday, May 02, 2008

Facebook and privacy issues

A recent article on the BBC website highlighted how easy it is to gain access to personal data of registered members on Facebook. While many people including me are happy to add 3rd party applications, we are ignoring the perils resulting from such an action. In the article quoted earlier, a developer was hired by BBC to develop an application which would snoop around for personal data of members who add that application to their list. While I am not very concerned about privacy issues, there are many people out there who would be appalled by the fact that obtaining personal data could be that easy. Also, it seems that such applications could access personal data of friends of the user who added the application. Hence, it's plain and easy to see how vast amount of personal information can be easily mined even though only few users would be actively using such applications. While Facebook does warn users about adding 3rd party applications, it's easy for users to overlook such warnings. These applications could be hosted on any server (not necessarily belonging to Facebook) and it's easy to think of a scenario how the information obtained could be easily misused. I guess Facebook needs to enforce stricter control regarding deployment of such applications and also needs to make sure that such applications do not violate user confidentiality.

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