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Facebook shuts apps privacy loophole

The site has come under scrutiny over its privacy policy. Earlier this month five Facebook users in California filed a civil lawsuit against the company alleging that it violates privacy laws and misleads members.

The Privacy Policy has been updated to distinguish between account deactivation and deletion, and clarify to users how advertising programs work.

Facebook said it would encourage users to review their privacy settings to make sure the defaults and selections reflect the user's preferences. It will also introduce a new permissions model that will require applications to specify the categories of information they wish to access. Applications will also be required to obtain express consent from the user before any data is shared. Facebook said the user will also have to specifically approve any access to their friends' information, which would still be subject to the friend's privacy and application settings.

However, the changes to how users share information with third-party applications will require significant time and resources, both for the updating and testing of the new Facebook API, and for third-party application developers to reprogram and test their applications, Facebook said. Facebook estimated that the entire process of improving user privacy would take approximately 12 months.

A spokeswoman for Facebook, said, "We are making a series of improvements that include notifications and information about privacy settings and practices, additions to Facebook's privacy policy, and technical changes designed to give people more transparency and control over the information they provide to third-party applications."

This article was first published by Computer Weekly