The Federal Trade Commission and Myspace have finalized the settlement of a privacy complaint alleging that the social network passed along users' names to advertisers via referrer headers.
Myspace, like many Web companies, allegedly "leaked" information about users by including data about them in referrer headers -- the HTTP header information that is automatically sent by publishers to ad networks. In Myspace's case, the company transmitted users' age, gender and "FriendID" to ad networks via referrer headers, according to the FTC. Advertisers were then able to use the FriendID to access users' profile information, which included the full names of around 84% of Myspace users, the FTC alleged.
That settlement stemmed from accusations by the FTC that Facebook repeatedly shared users' data more broadly than they authorized. The best-known example probably occurred in December of 2009, when Facebook reclassified a host of data about users as “public” -- including people's names, photos and friend lists. But the company also was accused of sharing some users' names with advertisers via referrer headers.