In the past I have talked about how gaming applications on social networks can be fun and engaging. I have also stated that these same applications are one way that the sites monetize themselves. Sometimes these applications can be coupled with malicious ads that, unfortunately, many people fall victim to everyday by providing personal information about themselves.
This article by Mitch Lipka of Walletpop shows just how serious this problem has gotten as thousands of people are coming forward with complaints that their private information was utilized without their consent. This problem just adds to the laundry list of problems that Facebook has been facing lately with sex offenders. However, this time the problem is more specifically geared towards their third-party affiliate—Zynga.
(This notification warns you that the personal information on your Facebook account can and will be used by Zynga–something to think about: Mafia Wars alone has more than 25 million users)
Zynga develops the highly-popular games on Facebook such as Farmville, Mafia Wars, and Pirates to name a few. Unfortunately like the article says, while people are using these gaming applications they are confronted by ad pop-ups, some of which can lead to other sites or unauthorized installs that can retrieve your personal information. For example, individuals unknowingly enrolled in text-messaging services (which they were later charged for) when they were prompted to provide a phone number for an IQ test on Facebook.
The most shocking discovery of this whole ordeal is the video that was posted on YouTube of Zynga’s CEO Mark Pincus blatantly admitting that he used any means possible to generate some sort of revenue at Zynga. Means that consisted of…well…listen for yourself:
Sad that the CEO of a successful company such as Zynga would use such unethical methods just to turn a profit. He obviously doesn’t care about the safety of the users on Facebook that are playing his company’s games, and it shows when he says, “I did every horrible thing in the book to, just to get revenues right away”.
Though Facebook has promised to get rid of the ads, here are some tips to avoid becoming a victim of online malpractice:
Don’t use applications that you aren’t familiar with without first checking out the credibility and reputation of the developer.
Never give your personal information to a website that obviously doesn’t need it.
Establish a dialogue with your children. Let them know that they too should never give their personal information.
Have a decent security software installed on your computer, AVG is a free anti-malware and anti-virus software that works really well—this should send you some sort of notification if you come across any fishy sites or ads.
Read the Terms of Service for any application that you sign up for. Some of them can be pretty scary. Here’s the Terms of Service for Zynga games: http://www.zynga.com/legal/terms_of_service.php