A new wildly popular Facebook app can tell you which words you’ve used the most often on your profile, but it might also give advertisers access to more personal data than you’ve bargained for.

Facebook Most Used Words App

Screenshot Credit: Andrew Griffith

More than 18 million people have used the “My Most Used Words on FB” app, designed by Korean company Vonvon.me, which creates a word cloud you can share with friends. And while it might just seem like a fun way to pass the time, some privacy experts warn that you should read the fine print carefully before clicking through.

Comparitech, a UK-based company, called the “Most Used Words” app a “privacy nightmare,” allowing Vonvon to store your data anywhere in the world – including countries that don’t have strong privacy laws. Comparitech outlined the list of information you initially had to agree to disclose to use the app:

·      Name, profile picture, age, sex, birthday, and other public info

·      Entire friend list

·      Everything you’ve ever posted on your timeline

·      All of your photos and photos you’re tagged in

·      Education history

·      Hometown and current city

·      Everything you’ve ever liked

·      IP address

·      Info about the device you’re using including browser and language

Vonvon’s privacy policy stated that it won’t share your information with a third party unless it has informed you of its plans to do so, but this does include telling you about it in the same privacy policy:

“We do not share your Personal Information with third parties unless We have received your permission to do so, or given you notice thereof (such as by telling you about it in this Privacy Policy), or removed your name and any other personally identifying information from it.”

According to the Los Angeles Times, due to recent criticism, Vonvon has updated its privacy policy; now you only have to give access to your public profile, your friends list and your timeline posts to use the app.

The “Most Used Words” Facebook app is by no means the only one to ask users for a long list of personal information (that most people don’t read closely before agreeing to). But it’s a recent example that highlights the complicated relationship advertisers and social media users have. How can marketers get insight into their audience without violating the trust and rapport they’re trying to build? How can users interact in fun and meaningful ways with brands without feeling uncomfortable with the information they have to share? It’s a delicate balance, and one that marketers should be thoughtful and strategic about for long-term success.

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