Data privacy and third party Facebook applications

Over in the UK, Facebook has been getting some scrutinty from a privacy standpoint, especially after officials at Oxford University used the service recently to identify celebrating students who may have been up to some naughtiness. [More on that here]

But there are some even more subtle privacy issues with Facebook, arising from the proliferation of the use of third party applications within the Facebook platform. Alex Newson at Freeth Cartwright’s Impact blog has written up a pair of posts [here and here] which take a serious look at these Facebook privacy concerns. Naturally the posts are written from a UK perspective, but are useful to U.S. readers inasmuch as they prompt one to consider that which has largely hitherto been unconsidered, namely, what legal issues should a Facebook app developer be thinking about.

The U.S. approach to data privacy is frequently characterized as “scattershot.” So there aren’t any bright lines to draw when it comes to how one should manage the sharing of information within the Facebook platform. What is most appropriate at this time is to recognize it as an issue of which developers (and users) should be aware.