Unbelievable: WSJ Calls Facebook’s Referring URLs a Privacy Violation (UPDATED)

In a jaw dropping move of bizarreness, Wall St. Journal writers Emily Steel and Jessica E. Vascellaro have called out major social networking websites tonight for violating user privacy apparently by passing profile page URLs to advertisers as the referring URLs when users click on ads. We’ve emailed both writers to ask for clarification in the event that they are in fact referring to something else, but haven’t heard back from them yet.

Update: Vascellaro has responded by email, emphasizing an apparently now-resolved if legitimate issue discussed vaguely as “in some cases” in the original story. Conflating that and the simple matter of referring URLs seems odd, to say the least. That said, it does appear that there was some grounds for debate around what was being communicated in some URLs. I’ve added some more thoughts, along with the text of Vascellaro’s more clear explanation by email, to the footer of this post. I don’t think the situation is as crazy now as I did when I first read it and wrote this post.

“Facebook, MySpace and several other social-networking sites have been sending data to advertising companies that could be used to find consumers’ names and other personal details, despite promises they don’t share such information without consent,” the article begins.

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Written by Marshall Kirkpatrick

In a jaw dropping move of bizarreness, Wall St. Journal writers Emily Steel and Jessica E. Vascellaro have called out major social networking websites tonight for violating user privacy apparently by passing profile page URLs to advertisers as the referring URLs when users click on ads. We’ve emailed both writers to ask for clarification in the event that they are in fact referring to something else, but haven’t heard back from them yet.

Update: Vascellaro has responded by email, emphasizing an apparently now-resolved if legitimate issue discussed vaguely as “in some cases” in the original story. Conflating that and the simple matter of referring URLs seems odd, to say the least. That said, it does appear that there was some grounds for debate around what was being communicated in some URLs. I’ve added some more thoughts, along with the text of Vascellaro’s more clear explanation by email, to the footer of this post. I don’t think the situation is as crazy now as I did when I first read it and wrote this post.

Facebook, MySpace and several other social-networking sites have been sending data to advertising companies that could be used to find consumers’ names and other personal details, despite promises they don’t share such information without consent,” the article begins. Leer más “Unbelievable: WSJ Calls Facebook’s Referring URLs a Privacy Violation (UPDATED)”