Deeper and more meaningful coverage of the Facebook universe has been by far the top user request since we launched Privacyscore. Today, we’re delivering our own Facebook app, Privacyscore for Facebook, with scores for hundreds of top Facebook apps, and research into the privacy practices of top app publishers. We’re also starting to roll out in-context privacy alerts, which proactively show an app’s Privacyscore at the moment where the app asks for permission through Facebook. USA Today broke the story, and here’s the official release:
Privacyscore brings transparency to Facebook apps
Browser tool warns users of privacy risks when apps ask for data
April 23, 2012 – Santa Cruz, CA - PrivacyChoice today announced the launch of Privacyscore for Facebook, the first and only privacy guide to the Facebook app universe. With Privacyscore, Facebook users can now see and instantly understand which apps protect their privacy and which don’t, and can know if they’ll be tracked and by whom. Like a privacy warning system, the Privacyscore add-on shows users an instant privacy rating (0-100) for the apps they use, before they give the app permission to use their Facebook profile.
“Hundreds of millions of people use Facebook apps every day, sharing personal profile information widely across thousands of app providers,” said Jim Brock, PrivacyChoice Founder and CEO. “Each app provider has its own privacy policies, which in many cases lack even minimal assurances. Our research also revealed that those apps bring in scores of third-party tracking companies, which in many cases also lack basic protections, choices and oversight.”
“Facebook doesn’t control or enforce app privacy practices, so it’s up to users to know the privacy risk of sharing personal data with apps. Now users can easily check the Privacyscore for an app before allowing access to their own personal data and their friends’ profiles.”
A privacy benchmark for app publishers
PrivacyChoice today also published research comparing the Privacyscores of the top app publishers based on scans of their most popular apps, giving Playdom the most favorable rating of 93 out of 100 Privacyscore points. Electronic Arts (91) was the only other top app publisher with an A-level rating. Other popular app publishers fell below that standard, with Zynga at 82 and K-Factor Media at 72. The average Privacyscore for all Facebook apps reviewed was 78 of 100. “Facebook users deserve better than a C-plus when it comes to their privacy,” said Brock.
A privacy barometer for the social network
As a service to the Facebook community, PrivacyChoice also unveiled the Facebook Tracking Heatmap, a stunning visualization of privacy risk across hundreds of top Facebook apps. Orange and red zones on the heatmap, which indicate companies with heightened privacy risk, represent a significant portion of all tracking activity on Facebook apps. Built on the Privacyscore Analytics platform, the Heatmap links to detailed evaluations of over 640 tracking companies in the exhaustive PrivacyChoice trackerlist index.
“A glance at the Heatmap shows that there’s a lot of work to do to bring popular apps into line with best privacy practices, “ Brock said. “By publishing this information in real-time, we’ve created the first privacy barometer for the Facebook app universe. We now have an objective way to measure progress toward better app privacy practices all across publishers and ad companies collecting user data through Facebook.”
An essential element for better online privacy
Today’s launch comes at a critical time for online privacy. In a major privacy report last month, the Federal Trade Commission called for greater transparency in the communication of privacy practices to users. The Commission specifically cited Privacyscore as a new tool with promise to enable consumers to better compare website privacy practices.
“The industry is moving toward a Do Not Track standard premised on a high degree of trust in compliance by tracking companies,” Brock said. “Tools like Privacyscore help web users, websites and advertisers understand which companies have stepped up to compliance and which have not. The success of industry-wide privacy efforts depends on the kind of transparency that Privacyscore provides.”
Privacyscore for Facebook Apps: http://apps.facebook.com/privacyscoreapps
Facebook Privacy Heatmap: http://www.privacyscore.com/heatmaps/facebook-apps
Privacyscore FAQ: http://www.privacyscore.com/faq
PrivacyChoice Blog: http://blog.privacychoice.org
The PrivacyChoice mission is to make online privacy easier. Founded in 2009, PrivacyChoice offers a suite of privacy tools and data for tracking awareness, tracking control, privacy analytics, and automated website and app privacy disclosure. PrivacyChoice also powers privacy applications by companies like Reputation.com and Keynote Systems, and have been featured multiple times in the Wall Street Journal’s online privacy coverage and Federal Trade Commission reports.
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Average Privacyscores for top app publishers
Policy Privacyscores measure on a 0-50 scale (50 is best) the protectiveness of the app’s policy as to personal information, such as Facebook profile data. Tracking Privacyscores measure the privacy qualifications of tracking companies seen collecting data through apps, measured on a 0-50 scale (50 is best).