Facebook’s New Third-Party Applications: With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility

May 25, 2007
Nicole A. Ozer

Page Media

ACLU of Northern CA

The blogosphere is buzzing with commentary about Facebook's announcement that the social networking site is opening its doors to third-party developers.

The newly announced feature, Facebook Platform, allows third-party developers (including heavyweights like Microsoft and Amazon.com) to create their own applications to provide Facebook's users with enhanced functionality, such as the ability to review books, or even borrow money from Facebook friends.

This is big news for Facebook users and many are touting the potential of Facebook Platform to revolutionize social networking.

But, if you use Facebook, you should be aware that the advent of third-party platform applications means that Facebook may no longer be solely responsible for keeping your personal information safe.

To its credit, Facebook has added the functionality for you to control how much of your personal information is shared with third-party applications by adjusting your Privacy Settings. See updated Facebook privacy policy here for more information and instructions.

Third-party developers are also bound by contractual and technical means to respect your general Privacy Settings.

However, Facebook does not screen developers for trustworthiness, and cannot (and does not) guarantee that all third-party developers will follow these rules. See updated privacy policy here.

Facebook users may benefit from the additional functionality that Facebook Platform makes possible, but they should be more vigilant than ever about controlling access to personal information now that responsibility for keeping such information safe can now fall to an array of individual developers instead of a single company.