Facebook Says User Data Sold to Broker

Facebook Inc. said that a data broker has been paying application developers for identifying user information, and that it had placed some developers on a six-month suspension from its site because of the practice.
The announcement, which Facebook made on its developers’ blog Friday, follows an investigation by Facebook into a privacy breach that The Wall Street Journal reported in October.

Some “apps,” the small programs that let users play games or share information with each other on the social-networking site, were sending users’ Facebook ID numbers to third-party marketing or data firms, in violation of Facebook’s privacy policies. An ID can be used to look up a user’s name and other publicly available information on the social network and link it to their use of the app. Such information can be used by companies that build profiles of Internet users by tracking their online activities.

Facebook didn’t identify the data broker that was buying user IDs. But it said it had reached an agreement with RapLeaf Inc., which it described as “the data broker who came forward to work with us on this situation.” It’s unclear whether Facebook is implicating RapLeaf and neither company responded to questions.

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