The Journal's main scoop is that as many as 25 apps are sending advertisers user's Facebook ID numbers.
"Facebook ID" number assigned to every user on the site. Since a Facebook user ID is a public part of any Facebook profile, anyone can use an ID number to look up a person's name, using a standard Web browser, even if that person has set all of his or her Facebook information to be private. For other users, the Facebook ID reveals information they have set to share with "everyone," including age, residence, occupation and photos.These names and IDs are already available for every profile through a simple Google (GOOG) search. Just look up a person's name, click on their profile photo, and write down the string of numbers in their URL. That's their name and Facebook ID.
The feeling among publishers and platforms like Facebook has always been that its better the customer doesn't see how the sausage gets made. But as the WSJ's ongoing series shows, even the mundane details of online advertising can be trumped up to sound like invasive snooping. Facebook would be well served to start educating their users to the mechanics of this industry so that the media's ominous tone doesn't dominate the conversation.
Image from Flickr user r.f.m. II