Is Facebook building shadow profiles?

New allegations have emerged that Facebook is building shadow profiles of people who have not created an account with the website.

The allegation, made by Ireland's Data Protection Commissioner (IDPC), claims that users are encouraged to give out non user's personal details, like names, phone numbers and email addresses, which Facebook uses to create 'shadow profiles' of those people. 

However, Facebook, which has 800 million users, has denied the claims and refutes allegations it is tracking information of non account holders too.

The claims were outlined in a complaint made by a student who in August who asked the company to release data it held on him much of which he claims he had deleted from his profile.

He was given a CD with all the information, including data about his friend requests and messages he had deleted, and then filed 22 complaints with the IDPC, which has jurisdiction over Facebook in Europe. 

The complaint states that information is being gathered 'without notice or consent by the data subject' and may be 'embarrassing or intimidating and might also constitute sensitive data like political opinions, religious beliefs or sexual orientation'.

If the social network is found to be keeping data illegally it will be forced to comply with the law or it will be fined.

Spokesman for the IDPC Ciara O'Sullivan told that its audit of Facebook Ireland's privacy policies was part of a 'statutory investigation' which is expected to trigger changes.

She said the 'comprehensive audit' will begin before the end of the month. 

Facebook spokesman Andrew Noyes told the news website it allows users to send emails to friends inviting them to join Facebook and that invitee's email addresses and names are kept so users can be informed when friends join. 

He said this practice was common among services that involve invitations.