Social networking giant Facebook is embroiled in a new privacy row after it emerged that the firm began selling access to users accounts to business companies in a bid to bolster its profits.
Facebook is allowing companies to trawl through its 900 million users looking for email addresses
and phone numbers so it can better target adverts.
File photo of a screen displaying logos of Facebook taken in Buenos Aires. AFP/Juan Mabromata
According to the Daily Mail, the new move will affect consumers who have handed over personal data when they buy something, which is the majority of people given the rise of Internet shopping
Retailers will then be allowed to compare their own databases with the information on Facebook.
According to the report, another disturbing element is that the adverts could appear on a user’s computer even when they are not on Facebook.
Facebook, however, claimed that there are safeguards attached to the new measures.
The firm said that phone numbers and email addresses will be replaced by hash symbols so nobody actually knows who the person is, even if they can track their behaviour.
Public interest research groups such as the Electronic Privacy Information Centre and the Centre for Digital Democracy have reportedly asked watchdog, the Federal Trade Commission, to investigate the arrangement.
“Facebook did not attempt to notify users of its decision to disclose user information,” they said in ajoint letter.
“Neither Facebook’s Data Use Policy nor its Statement of Rights and Responsibilities adequately explains the specific types of information Facebook discloses, the manner in which the disclosure occurs, or the identities of the third parties receiving the information,” they added.