Facebook Handing Advertisers Names, Hometowns
Firms can trace users' identities, jobs, sex preferences
By Mary Papenfuss,  Newser User
Posted May 21, 2010 1:43 AM CDT
Big Brother: Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.   (AP Photo/KEYSTONE, Peter Klaunzer)

(Newser) – Despite promises to the contrary, Facebook and MySpace are supplying information to advertisers that can be used to find an individual's name, age, hometown and occupation, reports the Wall Street Journal. Typically on the Web, advertisers receive nothing more than an unintelligible string of letters and numbers "identifying" an Internet surfer who has clicked on an ad. On Facebook and other social networking sites, however, those addresses typically include user names that can lead advertisers back to a profile page that may be packed with personal details like sexual preferences.

The sites are apparently breaking their own privacy policies as well as industry standards barring advertisers from such information without users' permission. Spokesmen for various sites said they were changing computer code to shield some of the information after they were contacted by the Wall Street Journal (which is owned by MySpace owner News Corp.). Facebook has recently pressed users to add more personal info on their sites and use real names.