Selling You on Facebook

Selling You on Facebook‘ is a great and timely article in the Wall Street Journal on how (Facebook) apps aggressively hoover up personal data. And not just your data – it’s your friends’ and family’s too…

Not so long ago, there was a familiar product called software. It was sold in stores, in shrink-wrapped boxes. When you bought it, all that you gave away was your credit card number or a stack of bills.

Now there are “apps”—stylish, discrete chunks of software that live online or in your smartphone. To “buy” an app, all you have to do is click a button. Sometimes they cost a few dollars, but many apps are free, at least in monetary terms. You often pay in another way. Apps are gateways, and when you buy an app, there is a strong chance that you are supplying its developers with one of the most coveted commodities in today’s economy: personal data.

Mining networks for sensitive personal information used to be the domain of virus and Trojan-makers. Now, apparently, it’s a multi-billion dollar business model…

Whether you know it or not – or even care – you’re selling another little bit of yourself every time you download and activate these so-called ‘free’ apps, and many of your ‘friends’ may unwittingly be passing on stuff you thought you were only sharing with them. As the author says, “don’t be surprised if details about your religious, political and even sexual preferences start popping up in unexpected places.”

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