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Facebook Pledges Steps on User Data

Date: Nov 02 2010 07:04:19 Source: wsj.com Views:
KeyWord: Facebook User Data, Mark Zuckerberg, Wall Street Journal

Facebook Inc. told lawmakers it had taken steps to prevent the sharing of personal information about users, including temporarily suspending certain applications from its site.

The statements came in response to a letter from U.S. Reps. Edward Markey (D., Mass.) and Joe Barton (R., Texas) to Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg, after The Wall Street Journal reported recently that certain applications on Facebook were sending users' ID numbers to marketers, in violation of Facebook's policies.

A user ID can be used to look up a user's name and other publicly available information on the social network; it can then be linked to other Web-browsing activities, allowing marketers to build profiles of Internet users.

The lawmakers sought details about Facebook's oversight of the 550,000 applications on its site. These "apps" are created by outsiders to let users play games or share information with other users.

The news comes amid increasing government scrutiny of Internet privacy. Last week, the Senate Commerce Committee chairman, Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D., W.Va.), asked top executives of Facebook and MySpace - where the site and certain applications also were sending user IDs to marketing companies - to detail how they safeguard information about their users. MySpace is owned by News Corp., which publishes The Wall Street Journal.

Facebook's response, sent Friday, echoed the company's disclosure the same day that a data broker had paid application developers for user information, and outlined the steps Facebook had taken against the data broker and the application developers. In the response, Marne Levine, Facebook's vice president for global public policy, repeated other technical measures the social network is taking to safeguard consumer privacy.

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