A few days after its report about privacy problems with Facebook’s applications, the Wall Street Journal reports on similar problems at social-networking site MySpace, “which had 58 million visitors in the U.S. in September.”
MySpace and some popular applications on the social-networking site have been transmitting data to outside advertising companies that could be used to identify users, a Wall Street Journal investigation has found.
The information was primarily sent by MySpace when users clicked on ads. The website had pledged to discontinue the practice of sending personal data when users click on ads after the Journal reported it in May. […]
The data being transmitted were MySpace user IDs. These unique numbers can be used to look up a person’s MySpace profile page, which sometimes includes their real name, photographs, location, gender and age. The advertising companies being sent the data, which included Google Inc., Quantcast Corp. and Rubicon Project, said they didn’t use the information.
Earlier this week, the Journal reported that the top 10 most-popular applications on Facebook were passing that site’s user ID numbers to outside companies. Facebook said it is changing its technology to block the transmission of user IDs.
The MySpace leaks appear to be more limited than those at Facebook, which has far more users and requires them to make public their name, gender and country. […]
The Journal’s investigation demonstrates how fundamental Web technologies can jeopardize user privacy. When a user clicks on an online ad, several pieces of data are transmitted, including the web address of the page where the user saw the ad. At both MySpace and Facebook, that web address has included a user ID.
A MySpace spokesman said the data identify the user profile being viewed but not necessarily the person who clicked on the ad. MySpace is owned by News Corp., which also owns The Wall Street Journal.