I frequent Facebook. A lot. But I’m no different than any of you because I know that everyone from my friends to my college advisor uses Facebook to keep up with people they’re friends with, or just “friends” with, and what’s going on their lives. Pictures, videos, wall posts, messages – what CAN’T you do with Facebook? It’s definitely grown monstrously over the last 4 years since I’ve signed up, and I hate to say, it’s a little unnerving.
Although I’m pretty vigilant about my privacy settings by keeping track of people on my ‘Restricted’ list – making sure to exclude them from viewing my pictures and videos, and ignoring friend requests from people I don’t know, not everyone seems to be. Some people are bold enough to keep their profiles public for the world to see. Some may not be so open and inviting, but still leave little to the imagination through their constant updates and life chronicles (aka their pictures and the similar). Many are even bold enough to put up photos of themselves doing *ahem* college-like things with no regard to who may checking out what you looked like, who you were with, and what you were doing last Saturday night. Then of course, there are those who are hyper-sensitive to what is visible to whom, and who keep a tight lockdown on all their Facebook output.
Regardless of the category you fall into, you’ll probably be surprised (and a little unnerved) to know a few things about Facebook and your supposed privacy on the social-networking monster may not be exactly what you think. News media and blogs everywhere are reporting and complaining about kinks in Facebook’s security and how the people behind it are abusing all of their some 400 million users’ privacy rights by selling their information to advertisers. A few things that definitely caught my attention might interest you too…
Redesigns to the site = reset to privacy settings
A lot of people hate it when Facebook redesigns the site. I can recall at least 3 specific times when the site went under major renovations and people went absolutely berserk because they were sick of all the change. I didn’t mind the changes too much, until I recently found out from a CBSNews article titled ‘Five Dangers of Facebook’ that every time the Facebook guys decide to redesign the site – your privacy settings all get reset to default. So, if you have a meticulously organized system of settings on Facebook designating who sees what, you’re going to have a thing or 2 to complain about every time you have there’s a redesign. If you haven’t already – might want to check your privacy settings right about now.
Your friends’ weak passwords might mean trouble for you
In the same CBS article, the author brings to light an interesting piece of truth I wouldn’t have considered. People you may actually be friends with may be dangerous to you if they have really weak passwords. Why? Because say a hacker gets int your friend’s account, which is connected to about 500+ friends (you being one of them), who do you think is going to get spammed? This has happened to me on several occasions and I know it has to many of you too. There is also this scam called the 419 scam where a hacker sends a message to his victim’s friends saying something like “I’m in London, and I just got mugged. Can you wire me some money?” It sounds ridiculous but some people actually fall for it and send money that ends up somewhere in Nigeria. (That’s a whole other security issue). To prevent someone from getting into your account, make sure always to log out of public computers and change your password every now and then. And not making it something obvious will probably help, too. It’s probably time for a change of my own, too.
The more “friends” the better? Not really
People tell me I’m kind of mean to go through a round of spring cleaning for my Facebook friends every now and then, but listen to this. The CBS article reported that a study done last year showed that some 40% of Facebook profiles were fake. That’s nearly HALF. That’s a ridiculously large number if you consider Facebook claims 400 million users. So, for people who are too nice to reject friend requests or have some 1000+ friends, maybe it’s time for a stroll through the lists for a reevaluation as to who you actually know, and who you don’t. There’s probably a few spammers or robot-created accounts in that list of yours just itching to spam you and steal your info.
We all know what you “like”
According to another article on Wired.com, a lot of content you publish is public whether you like it or not. The infamous and often overly-used “Like” button is one of these things. Apparently, when you “like” something on Facebook, it goes public and the scary thing is, there’s not even a way to STOP it from going public. There’s no privacy setting for it!
If Facebook keeps growing and expanding at the rate it does, it’s only a matter of time before it gets termed the new MySpace for its endless clutter and overly commercialized platform. The more and more information we’re allowed to share on Facebook, the more and more the creators behind it assume we want to make it public. It really would be a good idea for everyone to reevaluate the information you’ve got on your profile and really go through those privacy settings often to make sure everything is as private and public as it should be.