The curious thing to me about the Facebook apps ‘leaking data’ story is not that’s its happening, but rather the low levels of digital literacy (or the fact that this has been happening for years) by the public:
Many of the most popular applications, or “apps,” on the social-networking site Facebook Inc. have been transmitting identifying information—in effect, providing access to people’s names and, in some cases, their friends’ names—to dozens of advertising and Internet tracking companies, a Wall Street Journal investigation has found.
The issue affects tens of millions of Facebook app users, including people who set their profiles to Facebook’s strictest privacy settings. The practice breaks Facebook’s rules, and renews questions about its ability to keep identifiable information about its users’ activities secure.
The difference in the past was that the cost of acquiring this data was substantial enough to make it not worth the effort. The amount of data freely available and the decreased cost of computing power make it a trivial effort. This is only going to become more prevalent as online providers look to monetize the sale of data. The problem is that data is being used in ways that the average internet user cannot comprehend, and therefore cannot make an informed decision to opt-in or opt-out.