Boycott Watch  
December 12, 2011
Facebook Apps Database Helps Identity Theft and Terrorists
Summary: Boycott Watch: Say No Facebook applications which gather unnecessary information about you, can use it against you, your family and friends.
    Recently, Boycott Watch wrote an article about how Facebook applications and games can gather your private information, including email address, name, relationship, relationship status, that persons name, friends names and more. We also reported how these apps can also gather, save, use and even sell information from and about minors, including possible GLBT relationships, and how the release of such information has resulted in a suicide. Today, Boycott Watch has compiled an example of the specific private information Facebook is allowing applications to gather which has nothing to do with the actual applications, and how that information can result in identity theft.

   There is simply no reason games need to know who the player is dating, a player's relatives, photos and movies. The popular Farm Town game which is geared toward children, for example, required access to the following, as quoted on the Facebook access page:

  Access my basic information      
  Includes name, profile picture, gender, networks, user ID, list of friends, and any other information I've made public.   Required  
  Access my profile information      
  Likes, Music, TV, Movies, Books, Quotes, About Me, Activities, Interests, Groups, Events, Notes, Birthday, Hometown, Current City, Website, Religious and Political Views, Education History, Work History and Facebook Status   Required  
  Access my family & relationships      
  Significant Other and Relationship Details and Family Members and Relationship Status   Required  
  Access my photos   Required  
  Access my videos   Required  
  Access information people share with me      
  Birthdays, Religious and Political Views, Family Members and Relationship Statuses, Significant Others and Relationship Details, Hometowns, Current Cities, Likes, Music, TV, Movies, Books, Quotes, Activities, Interests, Education History, Work History, Online Presence, Websites, Groups, Events, Notes, Photos, Videos, 'About Me' Details and Facebook Statuses   Required  
  Access my contact information   Online Presence  

   Fred Taub, President of Boycott Watch, a consumer watchdog group, said "There is no reason games need this information, whatsoever. There is no need for games to see family photos, and especially videos. Can anyone explain why a game needs access to your family photos and videos? You can't because it is an unreasonable demand. If someone steals a credit card number, they can use such a database to add in birthdays, family member information, and more."

   Fred Taub continued: "Why, for example, would a game need to know the names of your children and see photos of them? That is what the games demand as part of the permission demands. If someone buys the database and they read a post about your kids walking home from school, they can use that for targeted crimes. What I want to know is why is Facebook allowing game application developers, and anyone else for that matter, to make an app which demands access to private information? Facebook supposedly fixed security issues but left this wide open."

   "I am most concerned about one particular category which violates the privacy of third parties, even if they have the highest security settings, allowing only friends to see their personal information" Fred Taub, President of Boycott Watch said emphatically. "The 'Access information people share with me' permission gathers significant information from people who have nothing to do with the apps whatsoever. This feature specifically gathers information about your friends who do not want their information going public whatsoever, and puts it into a public database. Not only is your private information insecure on Facebook, but it makes everyone's information available to the public - it guarantees them a complete work around of all Facebook privacy policies. This is scary!"

   There is simply no reason Facebook applications, especially games, need your personal information. Boycott Watch also believes this is a direct violation of the privacy policies Facebook has recently put in place. As Fred Taub stated, information about friends and family can easily be obtained in Facebook apps and for used to blackmail, and even to gather intelligence information for potential terrorist and criminal attacks. There is simply no end to what this private information can be used for. Boycott Watch has attempted to contact Facebook about this, but has received no replies. Boycott Watch advises people to protect their personal information before becoming a potential victim of cyber theft, identity theft, and even terrorism. Boycott Watch demands Facebook take immediate action to correct the privacy problems of Facebook applications.

   We will post updates as available.

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