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HasOffers acknowledges privacy violation with Facebook user data

Above: HasOffers logo

Image Credit: HasOffers
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Corrected 2/13/2014: HasOffers provides mobile analytics to its customers, but does not do monetization or sell advertising on its own. Also, we’ve removed a hypothetical example of how device-level data could be used to do individual user targeting, which was inaccurate.

Has Offers has grown quickly as a mobile analytics firm that takes Facebook data and targets ads at users on behalf of game and app publishers. But the company recently ran afoul of Facebook’s partner policies, and it has had to change its marketing practices, VentureBeat has learned.

Peter Hamilton, the chief executive of MobileAppTracking and HasOffers (which offers tools that enables companies track the performance of their online ads), said in an e-mail to clients Friday that “it recently has come to our attention that our MobileAppTracking platform was in violation of Facebook’s policies. Specifically, our MobileAppTracking platform inappropriately allowed advertisers to obtain device-level attribution and performance data. This was a mistake on our part.”

What this means is that HasOffers was taking data about individual users’ devices and sharing it with its advertiser customers.

Evidently, Facebook is not at fault in what it permits its advertising partners to do, and HasOffers has taken responsibility for the mistake. But Facebook has gotten into privacy invasion issues before, and the social network has been very cautious since that time. We’ve contacted both HasOffers and Facebook for comment.

Hamilton said in his e-mail to clients, “Our contractual agreement with Facebook only allows us to present aggregate and anonymous level — e.g., at the ad group level — reports and information to our partners and clients. Accordingly, we have updated our MobileAppTracking platform to prevent distribution of non-aggregated and non-anonymized device-level data.”

He added, “Specifically, MobileAppTracking only is able to provide the Facebook Campaign, Adgroup, and Ad parameters on an aggregate level across all MobileAppTracking interfaces. To be clear, Facebook has not changed its privacy or data-sharing policies. This is simply an update to our Platform to ensure we are in compliance with Facebook’s current data policies and our contractual obligations. Should Facebook revise these restrictions in the future, we’ll be sure to let you know. We apologize for any inconvenience that this issue may have caused you.”

HasOffers appears to be the only one of 14 Facebook partners to run into trouble. The company has raised $9.4 million from Accel Partners, RealNetworks founder Rob Glaser, Founder’s Co-op’s Chris DeVore. It was founded in 2009 by Lucas and Lee Brown.

HasOffers is valuable to game publishers or app publishers because it can tell them which of their ad campaigns is working the best in getting valuable users to use their games or apps. Based on information from HasOffers, the publishers can decide which ad networks are getting them real users and which ones are failing. That’s why it has grown fast.

Here’s the text of the message from Has Offers’ Hamilton:

As you likely are aware, it recently has come to our attention that our MobileAppTracking platform was in violation of Facebook’s policies. Specifically, our MobileAppTracking platform inappropriately allowed advertisers to obtain device-level attribution and performance data. This was a mistake on our part. Our contractual agreement with Facebook only allows us to present aggregate and anonymous level (e.g., at the ad group level) reports and information to our partners and clients. Accordingly, we have updated our MobileAppTracking platform to prevent distribution of non-aggregated and non-anonymized device-level data.

Specifically, MobileAppTracking only is able to provide the Facebook Campaign, Adgroup and Ad parameters on an aggregate level across all MobileAppTracking interfaces. To be clear, Facebook has not changed its privacy or data-sharing policies. This is simply an update to our Platform to ensure we are in compliance with Facebook’s current data policies and our contractual obligations. Should Facebook revise these restrictions in the future, we’ll be sure to let you know. We apologize for any inconvenience that this issue may have caused you. If you have questions please do not hesitate to reach out to your account representative or support@mobileapptracking.com.

Thank you again for supporting MobileAppTracking.
Best,

Peter Hamilton
CEO, MobileAppTracking & HasOffers

More information:

Facebook is the world’s largest social network, with over 1.15 billion monthly active users. Facebook was founded by Mark Zuckerberg in February 2004, initially as an exclusive network for Harvard students. It was a huge hit: in 2 w... read more »

Founded and initially bootstrapped by twin brothers Lucas and Lee Brown, TUNE is the Seattle-based attribution analytics company behind the products MobileAppTracking (MAT) and HasOffers. With a mission to make mobile marketing better ... read more »

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