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10/18/2010
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Facebook Restores Lolapps After Privacy Breach Closed

Social network games were shuttered over the weekend after the developer was charged with unauthorized sharing of user information.

Slideshow: Top 10 Tech Newsmakers Of 2010
Slideshow: Top 10 Tech Newsmakers Of 2010
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After going dark on Friday morning, Facebook restored power to Lolapps, developer of popular games played by about 150 million people around the world.

The games developer had transmitted user data, something prohibited by Facebook's contract. In addition, developers cannot disclose user information to ad networks and data brokers, said Mike Vernal, a member of the engineering team, at Facebook, in a company blog on Sunday.

"We take strong measures to enforce this policy, including suspending and disabling applications that violate it," he said.

Lolapps discovered Facebook was serious about this policy when the company -- alerted, perhaps, by a Wall Street Journal investigation into alleged sharing of Facebook user IDs to independent ad networks and Internet tracking services such as RapLeaf -- shut down the company's popular games including Critter Island, Diva Life, Band of Heroes, Yakuza Lords, and Facebook versions of Dante's Inferno and Champions Online.

"It has been a big weekend in the news for privacy and Facebook applications. As [Sunday's] Facebook developer blog post states, 'In most cases, developers did not intend to pass this information, but did so because of the technical details of how browsers work.' This statement applies to Lolapps," wrote Arjun Sethi, CEO of Lolapps, in a blog Monday.

"When we were informed of the issue the relationship that put us into this category was immediately dissolved. Since Lolapps was founded in 2008, we have always been committed to Facebook's platform policies and will continue to be as we grow," he said. "The entire team here wants our 150 million users to know that we are sorry they had to go without their favorite Lolapps games and applications."

Earlier this year, Facebook came under attack from several advocacy and privacy groups after the social networking giant changed its policies, making it more complex for users to protect their data. Before launching Facebook Places in August, the company reached out to organizations such as the Center for Democracy and Technology to make sure it addressed privacy issues.

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