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    USA Today: ‘Like’ it or not, sharing tools spur privacy concerns

    USA Today reports on privacy questions surrounding the use of social media applications:

    “Like” buttons and other social media apps — those ubiquitous little programs that allow you to do cool things with your computer and mobile devices — have taken the Internet by storm. But they’ve also introduced unprecedented security and privacy risks now being discussed as part of the push for stronger federal privacy laws.

    The core problem: anyone can introduce a social media app that ties directly into Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare and other popular services designed primarily to profile and track consumers to better sell advertising, says Craig Spiezle, executive director of the non-profit advocacy group, Online Trust Alliance. […]

    There is little stopping application developers from “combining and appending” personal data extracted from multiple sources. The goal: amass profiles of users’ online behavior and preferences for advertisers. “Individually these may appear to be like a few pixels of a photo, but when combined can provide a comprehensive mosaic of a user,” says Spiezle. […]

    Some 10,000 new websites integrate with Facebook every day, and Facebook members alone install some 20 million social media apps every day, according to Facebook.

    “We often don’t know we’re signing up for an app, and we have no clue how much information about us that app is collecting,” says [Michael Fertik, CEO of privacy services firm]. “We also don’t know who they’re sharing it with, nor the rate at which they’re sharing it.

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