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Top-Ranked Facebook Games In Privacy Breach Controversy

Top-Ranked Facebook Games In Privacy Breach Controversy

October 18, 2010 | By Simon Parkin

October 18, 2010 | By Simon Parkin
More: Console/PC

Several of the top-ranked games on social media platform Facebook were shut down over the weekend for breaching the site's privacy terms, an issue it's since said it quickly resolved.

Players of games by San Francisco-based LOLapps were unable to access their applications on Friday night, leading to speculatation on the developer's Facebook page that the games were encountering technical difficulties.

However, last night a Facebook spokesman confirmed that the games were removed for breaching the site's terms, saying: "We have disabled applications from LOLapps due to violations of our terms."

LOLapps' applications include Gift Creator, with 3.5 million monthly active users, Quiz Creator, with 1.4 million monthly active users, Colorful Butterflies and Best Friends Gifts.

A investigative report from the Wall Street Journal published today found that many of the top-ranked games on the site, including Zynga's Farmville, have been found to transmit user information to marketing companies in violation of Facebook's terms.

The apps reviewed by the Journal were found to be sending Facebook ID numbers to at least 25 advertising and data firms, several of which build profiles of Internet users by tracking their online activities.

"A Facebook user ID may be inadvertently shared by a user's Internet browser or by an application," a spokesman from Facebook told the paper. Knowledge of an ID "does not permit access to anyone's private information on Facebook," he said, adding that the company would introduce new technology to contain the problem.

[UPDATE: LOLapps said on its official blog this morning that it quickly worked to resolve the issue so that users could access its games again. "It has been a big weekend in the news for privacy and Facebook applications," wrote the company. "As tonight’s Facebook developer blog post states, 'In most cases, developers did not intend to pass this information, but did so because of the technical details of how browsers work.' This statement applies to LOLapps."

"When we were informed of the issue, the relationship that put us into this category was immediately dissolved," the company continues. "Since LOLapps was founded in 2008, we have always been committed to Facebook’s platform policies and will continue to be as we grow."]

Facebook has attracted severe criticism recently for its allegedly loose handling of user information, something it hopes this weekend's tough policing will help dispel. "We have taken immediate action to disable all applications that violate our terms," the Facebook spokesman said.

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