Facebook Ireland accused of creating 'shadow profiles' on users, nonusers

Accusing Facebook Ireland of creating "shadow profiles" on the users of the social-networking site, as well as the non-users, the Irish Data Protection Commissioner (IDC) has reportedly initiated a "comprehensive" investigation into the matter.

According to a recent Fox News report, the IDC will investigate the allegations pertaining to Facebook Ireland's extraction of current users' personal information - with neither their consent nor their awareness of it - and also building "extensive profiles" on even the non-users of the service.

As per the claims of the Irish authorities, Facebook Ireland is apparently collecting the current users' details - including names, e-mail addresses, phone numbers, work information, and probably more sensitive information like sexual orientation, religious beliefs, and political affiliations - and it is highly possible that the collected data may be misused.

On the basis of the information forwarded by an IDC representative, the Fox News report has mentioned that the "statutory" audit of Facebook Ireland - which will begin next week - is largely the outcome of as many as 22 discrete complaints, to IDC, about the site by an Austrian law student, Max Schrems, 24.

The representative also disclosed that the audit would probably lead to "immediate charges" in case it is found that Facebook has violated the data laws. In fact, according to the UK-based Guardian, Facebook may even have to pay a penalty charge of up to US$137,000 if the violation is confirmed.