Wall Street Journal Cites I School Research on Facebook Privacy

From The Wall Street Journal

Selling You on Facebook

By Julia Angwin and Jeremy Singer-Vine

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.

Some of the most widely used apps on Facebook—the games, quizzes and sharing services that define the social-networking site and give it such appeal—are gathering volumes of personal information....

But even after the permissions screens appeared, most Facebook users still didn't understand what was happening with their data, according to a study last year by researchers at UC Berkeley [School of Information doctoral student Jen King, visiting researcher Airi Lampinen, and 2011 MIMS graduate Alex Smolen]. More than half the people surveyed couldn't tell which types of data a sample app could collect. And about 40% didn't understand that when an app was allowed to get personal data, it could actually transfer that data out of Facebook and store it elsewhere....

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