Stupid, or evil? Facebook manages both with new privacy breach

Ian Lurie

We spend all our time hand-wringing over Google and Microsoft’s intrusions into our private lives. We freak out over the Patriot Act.
Well, they’re all pikers compared to Facebook.
Facebook has allowed companies like Rapleaf to match up our Facebook user IDs with web browsing histories. Yep. They can now match up your browsing habits with your Facebook account.
I won’t bother going into the details here. You can read about it in PCWorld’s explanation.

Facebook claims stupidity innocence

Facebook seems to be claiming that they didn’t actually do this. They say their biggest game developers – including the Farmville folks, Zynga – built their games in such a way that advertisers could grab our IDs.
That’s not their fault, Facebook claims. It’s not even the developers’ fault. It’s those mean, mean advertisers.
Yeah. OK…
Except the developers who sent the information to the advertisers violated your terms of service, you idiot balls of belly button lint. You just ignored their violations because you didn’t want to stop Joe American from harvesting his latest batch of artichokes in Farmville.

The herd doesn’t care

If Google had done something like this (and gotten caught) we’d be carpet-bombing Mountainview. Politicians would be lining up to claim their outrage.
If I’d done something this slack-jawed to my clients, I’d be out of business and in court for the rest of my life.
But it’s Facebook, and the breach is too complicated: It requires, like, five minutes of non-stop concentration to understand what happened.
So the herd goes back to playing games.

Get real: Dump the third party apps

OK, let’s get real. No one’s going to delete their Facebook account. As a marketer, I can’t afford to. As someone totally unaware of what’s going on, the average user won’t care to.
What you can do, for now, is avoid installing any third party apps.
I’m waiting to see what Zuckerberg does to fix this latest PR nightmare. Although, at this rate, he won’t have to do anything, except count his money.

Ian Lurie

Ian Lurie is the founder of Portent. He's been a digital marketer since the days of AOL and Compuserve (that's more than 25 years, if you're counting). Ian's recorded training for, writes regularly for the Portent Blog and has been published on AllThingsD, Smashing Magazine, and TechCrunch. Ian speaks at conferences around the world, including SearchLove, MozCon, Seattle Interactive Conference and ad:Tech. He has published several books about business and marketing: One Trick Ponies Get Shot, available on Kindle, The Web Marketing All-In-One Desk Reference for Dummies, and Conversation Marketing. Ian is now an independent consultant and continues to work with the Portent team, training the agency group on all things digital. You can find him at

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