Photo: Ludovic Toinel
Facebook and MySpace sent advertisers code that identified which specific users were clicking on ads, the Wall Street Journal reported today, citing a report at AT&T Labs and Worcester Polytechnic Institute.In some cases, Facebook advertisers were able to view these users’ names, ages, hometowns and occupations.
The report was published last August, but Facebook only re-wrote its code to stop sending the information after the WSJ contacted the company for today’s story.
“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,” a Facebook spokesman told the WSJ.
“We fixed this case as soon as we heard about it.”
Obviously, this is not pleasant news for Facebook, which just keeps on getting slapped around by the media over privacy issues. Lawmakers have petitioned the FTC over some of the problems.
The noise all started when, at a developer conference last month, Facebook launched a product that, without asking users first, automatically shared their profile information with Pandora, Yelp, and Microsoft’s Docs.com.
At the same time, Facebook started requiring its users to join public groups based on the previously private “interests” listed on their profiles. (Importantly, users have the option of deleting these private interests instead of sharing them.)
Later, Facebook inadvertently exposed users to the private chats of other users for a couple hours.
Much of this, is bad behaviour from Facebook, but we doubt it’ll get punished for it. Right or wrong, we don’t think Facebook users care about these kinds of issues enough to quit Facebook over them.
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