The Journal found that some LOLapps applications, as well as the Family Tree application, were transmitting users’ Facebook ID numbers to RapLeaf. RapLeaf then linked those ID numbers to dossiers it had previously assembled on those individuals, according to RapLeaf. RapLeaf then embedded that information in an Internet-tracking file known as a “cookie.”
via Facebook in Online Privacy Breach; Applications Transmitting Identifying Information – WSJ.com.
This should probably not come as a surprise to anyone, given how fast and loose Facebook has played with privacy in the past, but as another cautionary tale about how marketing’s insatiable lust for personal data to sell to spammers (oh, sorry, “merchants”) leads many a company down the dark path to routine breaches of personal privacy.
Rapleaf: Opt out from data sharing.
While the worst offender of reselling personal information allows you to tediously opt-out for each e-mail address you own (guaranteeing they have a nice, juicy database of e-mail addresses), no one really knows how widespread the abuse of personal data is. Judging by the frosty response one application developer (Familybuilder, who make Family Tree) gave to the Journal when asked about the problem, I’d guess it’s pretty broad.
In the bigger picture, the best model for online marketing (for ANY marketing, in my opinion) is opt-in. Let the consumer decide what they want to hear about, not the marketer/spammer. You waste far fewer resources and tick off far fewer people that way, and your rates of return versus expense of spamming are much better, too.