For those of you that use Facebook, you are more than likely aware of the numerous quiz applications making the rounds lately. "What is your real eye color?" or "Which reality television show are you?" are just two out of the multitude, and while they are an entertaining past time, how safe are they really?
Apparently, these applications are not safe at all, according to the Northern California chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), who are presently campaigning to raise awareness of the privacy implications of Facebook's developer platform. In addition, this campaign appears to be focusing primarily on the popular "quiz" applications.
Now according to the ACLU, the developers of these third-party applications, including the quizzes, end up having almost limitless access to your personal information once you begin using their applications on your profile. "Facebook's default privacy settings allow nearly unfettered access to a user's profile information, including religion, sexual orientation, political affiliation, photos, events, notes, wall posts, and groups," Chris Conley, technology and civil liberties fellow at the ACLU of Northern California, was reported as saying.
While Facebook does not deny this, they have noted that any information considered incredibly sensitive, such as contact details, are not available to third-party applications. Facebook went on to caution users that there are those with malicious intent prowling social networking websites, even their own, and that users should take the opportunity to go over their privacy settings, adjusting just how much a friend’s application can see of their own profile.
This, however, has not seemed to satisfy the ACLU. "It's time for Facebook to upgrade its privacy controls so that quizzes can only see what people want them to see," Chris Conley continued. "Users need stronger protections than Facebook currently provides." The ACLU suggested that Facebook make the process of applications accessing personal information optional for the user involved, and his or her friends.
Barry Schnitt, spokesman for Facebook, wrote in an email, “We generally agree with [the ACLU's] recommendations and have already made public announcements about relevant changes that are under way. Specifically, we recently disabled hundreds of applications, including quiz applications, that were inconsistent with Facebook Platform policies... We've also had productive discussions with the Canadian Privacy Commissioner about improving user data controls on Platform. We'd be glad to also have productive discussions with the ACLU and generally catch them up, if they want to give us a call."