Posts Tagged ‘lolapps’

Devs caught leaking UID data get the silent treatment from Facebook

Tuesday, November 2nd, 2010

It seems as though the LOLapps/Rapleaf saga has some reaching complications for a number of developers who either knowingly or otherwise passed User ID information on to third parties. Those that Facebook has targeted will be denied access to communication channels for the next six months. According to Facebook HQ, these targeted developers were found to have accepted compensation for the data they’d gathered via the aforementioned third parties.

According to the Facebook statement, the information that was sold to third parties was not private, yet still an infraction against the social networking platform’s privacy policies. Mentioned in the same statement, Facebook says that this communications blackout will affect less than a dozen developers, all of them relatively small, and none in the top ten applications rankings.

As mentioned above (and multiple times throughout the WSJ expose), and according to Inside Facebook, this ban also applies to LOLapps. While LOLapps directly only serves around 15 million users, remember, they also run a white label service that operate a wide variety of other apps, thus serving many more than just 15 million users.

However… and this is where things get interesting. LOLapps’ latest title, Ravenwood Fair, is not affected by this communications ban. You’ll also remember that the Wall Street Journal article that blew the whistle on these UID sale specifically targeted the ten most popular apps on Facebook. Now, you can’t mention top apps on Facebook and not mention Zynga in the same breath. In fact, Nancy Graf of St. Paul, Minnesota has filed a class action lawsuit against Zynga over the situation. Oddly enough (or not), there’s been no word regarding Zynga being cut off from communications.

In other words, is Facebook merely making an example of these smaller firms to send a warning shot across the bow of those that would consider selling data gathered from Facebook? You decide. But keep in mind, the Zynga/Facebook relationship is so engrained that silencing Zynga would be akin to the proverb, “cutting off one’s nose to spite one’s face.”

In a more positive light, Facebook is reporting that they’ve reached an agreement with Rapleaf that states the data collection firm will delete every Facebook UID it has previously collected. Likewise, Rapleaf has committed to carrying on no further activities on Facebook in the future.

Facebook has also instituted a new encryption to UIDs, with developers having until the first of next year to implement the solution.

 

LOLapps back on Facebook – but bigger questions, and a class action lawsuit, arise

Wednesday, October 20th, 2010

Call it the straw that broke the camels’ back, or shooting themselves in the foot – but it appears as though Facebook’s decision to cut LOLapps off has far bigger underlying consequences.

After a presumed stern warning from Facebook, LOLapps has been reinstated into the Facebook offerings. The company is quietly admitting that their programs got the boot because of passing user data along to a third party. Their reasoning is that they did this without their knowledge, and occurred only because of the manner in which browsers tracked user data. LOLapps have since dissolved the relationship. How do you dissolve a relationship that you never knew existed in the first place?

So far so good … however. The past weekend saw a story run in the Wall Street Journal detailing how a number of Facebook apps and games were passing user data to up to 25 various ad and data firms. According to the Journal report, with this data, third parties can easily look up a user’s name, regardless of privacy controls. One data firm that was mentioned in the WSJ article was RapLeaf, a user behavior data firm that builds user information profiles. Allegedly, RapLeaf then passed this data on to a number of other advertising and data collection firms. Similarly to LOLapps’ statement, RapLeaf comments that they did so unintentionally.

Post article, Facebook reps say that the company has put measures in place to limit RapLeaf’s ability to access user data. They also issued a statement citing their own policy that addresses developers and that they may not knowingly pass along user information to any ad networks or data firms. They did admit that a number of developers were in fact violating this policy – although LOLapps was the only one caught with their hands in the cookie jar.

The Wall Street Journal article specifically targets the ten most popular apps on Facebook, stating that they were/are all passing user data along to third parties. Three guesses who’s got a major presence in the top 10? You guessed it – Zynga. Oddly enough, none of Zynga’s apps were banned over the weekend, or now in fact. It’s not clear as to whether Zynga was/is passing data specifically to RapLeaf, which could have been the stumbling block for LOLapps. However, it didn’t take very long for Nancy Graf of St. Paul Minnesota to file a class action lawsuit against Zynga.

Filed in San Francisco, CA federal court, Graf’s lawsuit alleges that Zynga collected the Facebook data of its 218 million users and shared it with advertisers and data brokers in violation of federal law, and Zynga’s contract with Facebook. The case is seeking monetary relief for those whose data was shared.

“This appears to be another example of an online company failing the American public with empty promises to respect individual privacy rights,” explained Michael Aschenbrener of Edelson McGuire LLC, co-lead attorney for the class action. “Companies large and small need to learn to follow through on their privacy promises or risk having consumers decide that it is simply not worth it to use their services,” added Kassra Nassiri of Nassiri & Jung LLP, co-lead attorney for the lawsuit.

While I’m quite sure Facebook, and a whole lotta apps and games developers would rather put this one to bed as quickly as possible, it looks like Ms. Graf’s lawsuit is going to make sure that that isn’t going to happen anytime soon. When viewed under this light, PopCap co-founder Jason Kapalka’s predictions might happen a lot faster than we initially thought.

 

LOLapps pulled from Facebook for TOS violations

Monday, October 18th, 2010

One of Facebook’s largest (12th, in fact) suddenly had it’s hit title Critter Island, along with all of it’s other properties pulled from Facebook this past Friday evening. A quick look at Inside Social Games’ AppData figures confirm – all LOLapps now redirect to Facebook.com.

lolapps-logoLOLapps, which in addition to Critter Island hosts a number of other games, quizzes and gift apps on the Facebook platform suddenly found themselves in the dark over the weekend. Those playing Critter Island, or expecting to I should say, were greeted with the following message, “We’re sorry that Critter Island et al is not currently available. We’re actively working to resolve these issues and will keep you posted. Please stand by!” Prior to the pull, LOLapps was attracting well over 14 million monthly active users, with just under one million daily active users. Gone.

And now comes the most troubling part – why? In an extremely brief statement, Facebook reps commented, “We have disabled applications from LOLapps due to violations of our terms.”

The rumor mill is abuzz with speculation, with some sources reporting that LOLapps didn’t see this one coming, and in effect, have been blind sided by Facebook’s decision to say “No way, Jose!” The Quora forum has seen a blizzard of activity, with many a user speculating that Facebook’s decision to pull the plug is based on LOLapps exploited a bug in the platform’s system regarding the posting of messages to user walls. LOLapps CEO Arjun Sethi isn’t saying a word, “We can’t provide comment at this time. We will update you as soon as we are able to.”

This wouldn’t be the first time that Facebook has decided to ix-nay a developer. You’ll remember the Pencake saga that erupted over this past summer, with several of their quiz apps suddenly vanish overnight. Pencake’s case was more clearcut, as their got caught with their hands in the “do not spam” cookie jar, where as LOLapps may or may not be in the same situation.

While rules and regulations are put in place to protect the business and end consumers, Facebook’s apparent lack of “Cut it out or we’re shutting you down,” messaging doesn’t bode well at a time when the platform is trying to convince and welcome developers to the table, much to the “ummm…errrr, how exactly is this better for us?” coming from a number of developers.

It’s clear to say that without Facebook, LOLapps wouldn’t have a bright future ahead of it. As most policy violations usually end up as a stern first time warning, given Facebook’s lack of initial contact, let’s hope they’re not looking to make an example out of LOLapps.