Facebook User Data to be 'Shared' with Developers

Dennis Faas's picture

Facebook is about to make more user data available to outside websites. It's an attempt to promote third-party applications, but will inevitably bring attention back to the firm's privacy policies.

The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) says speculates that the Facebook plans will be announced later today. The changes would mean companies could access and use data uploaded by users such as photographs, comments, blog-style note posts and videos. (Source: wsj.com)

Developers to Spawn External Sites from User Content

Developers could then use the data to create an external website. For example, a photo sharing website would be able to allow a user to have access to their Facebook photos and those from another service such as Flickr, in a single portfolio.

At the moment, Facebook user data is only available for developers making applications which appear on the Facebook site itself. It appears Facebook is making the changes to keep up with rival services such as Twitter which already allow outside sites and tools to use its data, such as Microsoft's site which lists the latest posts from major business executives.

As part of the changes, Facebook will alter the technical barriers on the way developers can access the information. At the moment they must use a special system controlled by Facebook, but in the future they will likely be able to use an open system which is more easily compatible.

Implications and Privacy Rights

The WSJ report says users would have to give their permission to allow companies to access their information, and that their existing privacy settings will cover the new services.

Thanks to recent public relations problems, including a rash of worm viruses on user accounts and an unsuccessful change to terms of service policy that would have given Facebook permanent rights to use uploaded photos and posts even after users cancel their accounts, it will be vital for Facebook to clearly communicate how user privacy will be protected when third parties get the increased access. (Source: cnet.com)

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