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Zynga Make User Policies Fun in PrivacyVille

| 8 Jul 2011 19:52
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Zynga, the gaming company everyone loves to hate, is inviting players to learn all about its privacy and user policies through a brand-new "game" called PrivacyVille.

Zynga, as we all know, is an affront to real gamers, with its simple, silly yet ridiculously addictive games, not to mention a certain dubiousness to the way it handles private user data. In September 2010 PopCap CEO Dave Roberts described Zynga as a "marketing company" that "buys its customers" and a month later it was discovered that FarmVille was among numerous Facebook games caught sending identifiable user data to online advertisers and trackers.

Zynga appears to be taking the complaints seriously, or at least seriously enough to be seen doing something about it. Behold PrivacyVille, the new "game" that takes players through an abbreviated user policy and then a five-part quiz to test what they've learned. It may not sound like a whole lot of fun [and, truth be told, it isn't] but it does offer up 200 zPoints that can be used in RewardVille, Zynga's online rewards site.

200 zPoints isn't a lot - it'll get you an armored car in Mafia Wars, Maureen the Unicorn in Treasure Isle or Eternal Damnation in Vampire Wars, among other things - but for something you can click through in under 30 seconds, it's a pretty fair offer. It's also hard to argue that it's not a legitimate attempt on the part of Zynga to bring at least the highlights of its privacy policies to the attention of everyone: what information it accesses from your Facebook account, how it uses cookies to track your account and email to send you alerts, and how you can go about adjusting these settings to your particular comfort level.

This may not be the dawn of a new age of openness and transparency at Zynga, but if it is taking privacy concerns more seriously, even for reasons of sheer self-interest, then that has to be seen as a good thing. The only sad part, really, is that Zynga has to effectively bribe people in order to make them pay attention to matters they should have a serious interest in in the first place.

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