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7/1/2010
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Facebook Tightens Security On Developer Apps

Users must now grant permission for their data to be accessed by third-party applications, websites, and services.

Acting on its pledge to simplify privacy and give account holders more control over their data, Facebook Wednesday launched a new system that forces developers to request and receive permission when users connect to third-party applications, websites, and services.

"With this new authorization process, when you log into an application with your Facebook account, the application will only be able to access the public parts of your profile by default. To access the private sections of your profile, the application has to explicitly ask for your permission," said Bret Taylor, CTO at Facebook, in a company ' blog.

"These improvements reflect two core Facebook beliefs: first, your data belongs to you; second, it should be easy to control what you share. If at any point you ask a developer to remove the data you've granted them access to, we require that that they delete this information," he said.

In mid-June, Facebook rebutted concerns a coalition of consumer privacy advocates submitted in an open letter to the social networking company. The group -- which included the ACLU of Northern California, the Center for Democracy and Technology, the Center for Digital Democracy, Consumer Action, Consumer Watchdog, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and the Electronic Privacy Information Center -- claimed Facebook did not give users enough control over which applications access their personal data.

There are more than 550,000 active applications on Facebook, according to the company. Each month, more than 70% of users engage with platform applications and more than 1 million websites have integrated with the Facebook platform, the company said.

Although the vast majority of accountholders use Facebook to communicate with friends and family, third-party applications command large audiences. Friend Quiz, for example, has 20.67 million users, and Cafe World has a membership of about 20.53 million, according to AppData. Zynga's latest game, Frontierville, is the top gainer this week, adding 4.3 million users as of Thursday, AppData found.

Facebook also stated third-party services are not subject to its previous policy where third parties connected to its servers could store user data for 24 hours. This will streamline and speed applications, thereby making the process easier for both users and developers, Facebook said.

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