Words with Friends Sharing Personal Info

March 8, 2011
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A fan of the popular Android game app Words with Friends, got a peak into the kind of information is shared with advertisers after he had problems with the game crashing. Smackywolf over at Reddit Android discovered that the game sends the following information to advertisers: the users MEI, the build of the phone and it's make and model, brower details. Smackywolf believes that with that information, advertisers has access to his carrier, his unique browser ID, phone fingerprint, email address and possibly his phone number. And he's not happy about it.

I don't really want some random advertiser having this information about me. I'm more than a little upset that my IMEI is being sent and used as a tracking ID by some website. This potentially means that I can be tracked by anything that is using this advertiser, and indeed, anyone that shares data with that advertiser ... I'm not a big privacy advocate, but I think this is terrible.

Apps developers have come under fire of late for mining personal data and Words with Friends seems to be just the next in the long list of apps which have been caught with their hand in the privacy cookie jar. According to a recent test, it's been found that anywhere from 20-50% of all Android apps are sending private information to advertisers without the user being aware. Google, however, states that every user is advised upon installation that data will be shared and that warning is part of their developers terms of service. But in reality, do users really read all that information? Do they really know that their location, gender, age and other personal information is being sent to advertisers?

And considering apps as popular as Words with Friends, the app developers brag in their marketing that they've got millions of online users. That's a lot of privacy violations to gloss over. Users are well advised to read the privacy policies of apps before installing them so they know what information they are unwittingly sharing with the world.

[via Reddit]


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  • eminembdg

    Yea, ya have to really look at the permissions of apps. So…. bye bye Words with Friends

    • http://twitter.com/mykie242 mykie Gunderson

      You don’t even have to look at the permissions…

      I saw this game was published by Zynga and knew enough that it was bad news.

      Long story short: Avoid anything by Zynga like the BLACK PLAGUE.

  • Anonymous

    Not shocking at all. Zynga should be avoided at all costs. They are the scum of the gaming world.

  • Livia Bergovoy

    “Words with friends” is indeed intrusive – accessing our contacts lists, etc. But how is that app different than the apps which are pre-installed in all these smartphones?  (These preinstalled apps are likely what make a smartphone “smart” and can’t be deleted by the average user.)

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/EBWVJWO5LKYCG4NS3XRAVCXBRA Word

    I just got the Words with friends on my iphone, so much fun ..Oh man, this game has given me so many hours of fun. I usually don’t cheat, but there are times that I gotta use the ANAGRAMMER, google it my peeps!”

  • Anonymous

    I am also addicted with that game also..I downloaded it on my Samsung Galaxy Tab so anywhere will I go I can play that game..I use the ANAGRAMMER to give me some hints in times I’m having a hard time..