Google engineer develops Facebook Disconnect to protect your online privacy

About two years ago, Facebook launched Facebook Connect, a service that allows third party websites to leverage Facebook data by allowing their users to connect their Facebook profile with the website for deeper integration

Thousands of third party websites and applications currently use Facebook Connect, promptly raising privacy concerns over how personal data is being handled, and what data is accessible to third parties, among other concerns.

In the past few weeks, Facebook applications like FarmVille reportedly shared confidential personal information about users obtained through Facebook Connect with numerous different partners such as advertising networks.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the FarmVille app, which has almost 60-million users on Facebook, specifically shared personal data with up to 25 third parties without user knowledge.

Personal information included unique Facebook IDs, age, and occupation, among other personally identifiable information.

As more people utilize Facebook to stay connected, more and more people are posting personal information without realizing the information is not always private, and that it could even be shared with third parties without their knowledge.

To help ensure online privacy, Brian Kennish (@byoogle), an engineer at Google, developed Facebook Disconnect, an extension for the Google Chrome browser, which effectively blocks the transmission of data back to Facebook servers through Facebook Connect on third party websites, while still allowing a user to access the sites.

The developer says the project was created on his own time, and it is not endorsed or related with his employer, Google, in any way, express, or implied.

The developer is expected to release the application for other popular browsers, including Mozilla Firefox, among others.


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