Facebook may have leaked your personal information: Symantec

Wed May 11, 2011 12:46am EDT

A Facebook page is displayed on a computer screen in Brussels April 21, 2010. REUTERS/Thierry Roge

A Facebook page is displayed on a computer screen in Brussels April 21, 2010.

Credit: Reuters/Thierry Roge

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(Reuters) - Facebook users' personal information could have been accidentally leaked to third parties, in particular advertisers, over the past few years, Symantec Corp said in its official blog.

Third-parties would have had access to personal information such as profiles, photographs and chat, and could have had the ability to post messages, the security software maker said.

"We estimate that as of April 2011, close to 100,000 applications were enabling this leakage," the blog post said.

" ... Over the years, hundreds of thousands of applications may have inadvertently leaked millions of access tokens to third parties," posing a security threat, the blog post said.

The third-parties may not have realized their ability to access the information, it said.

Facebook, the world's largest social networking website, was notified of this issue and confirmed the leakage, the blog post said.

It said Facebook has taken steps to resolve the issue.

"Unfortunately, their (Symantec's) resulting report has a few inaccuracies. Specifically, we have conducted a thorough investigation which revealed no evidence of this issue resulting in a user's private information being shared with unauthorized third parties," Facebook spokeswoman Malorie Lucich said in a statement.

Lucich said the report also ignores the contractual obligations of advertisers and developers which prohibit them from obtaining or sharing user information in a way that "violates our policies."

She also confirmed that the company removed the outdated API (Application Programing Interface) referred to in Symantec's report.

Facebook has more than 500 million users and is challenging Google Inc and Yahoo Inc for users' time online and for advertising dollars.

(Reporting by Thyagaraju Adinarayan and Sakthi Prasad in Bangalore; Editing by Bernard Orr and Anshuman Daga)

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Comments (11)
KS2Problema wrote:
Facebook is like a poltergeist house… stuff happens with no explanation. I recently got a message *from* Facebook telling me one of my friends had “recommended” I friend someone we both knew who was already on her friend list — but it seemed extraordinarily out of character for my friend.

Sure enough, when I checked with her she said, “I absolutely did nothing of the kind, though she’s a nice person.”

And, then, of course there are all the malware apps that send message blasts out from the poor slobs who get ‘infected’ in ways they often don’t know to all their friends, typically engendering a blast of apologies from the infected party apologizing for the malware blast.

FB is not without its charms — and obviously a huge number of people have adopted it instead of using email (no doubt because their own email accounts are probably so polluted by spam and malware they’ve stumbled into or been infected with by similarly clueless but guileless friends).

May 10, 2011 9:31pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
JamVee wrote:
Just one more in an ever growing list of reasons to quit FB.

May 10, 2011 9:52pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
peepopper wrote:
I guess I don’t understand. Are people putting personal and private information that they don’t want shared on the world wide web? Are the advertisers going to log into my facebook account and update my status? I better change my password, before they see all the photos I have on facebook that I don’t want other people seeing. I have this one picture on facebook of me eating a cocunut cream cake in my underwear… oh, and the picture of my cat wearing a 3 peice suit and top hat, that’s MINE! don’t look at it!

May 11, 2011 1:01am EDT  --  Report as abuse
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