Posted in: adoption, Communication, Facebook, In this week's e-newsletter, social networking, Web 2.0, Web sites
Repeat after me: Facebook is a business, its job is to make money. Now, go check your Facebook privacy settings and see how you’re helping this Internet tsunami sweep through your life and contacts to add to their coffers.
That’s the message that’s being spread far and wide these days by Web security experts who believe most users of the social networking site have no idea how their activities on the site are being used in the marketplace.
Each time Facebook “revamps” its features, you can believe it’s not just to make finding that old college classmate or long lost cousin easier.
The message from Joan Goodchild, senior editor of CSO (Chief Security Officer) Online, is that each time Facebook touts a re-design or a new format, you can bet your last nickel that it’s being done as an excuse to re-set your privacy controls to a Facebook-designated default that lets the site’s owners peddle your info and activities far and wide.
Goodchild discussed the social networking site’s various privacy traps on CBS’ “The Early Show on Saturday Morning” and her top five Facebook pitfalls are worth repeating here:
• Your information is being shared with third parties
Facebook wants to make money, and they can do this by sharing your information with advertisers who want to market their products to you.
• Privacy settings revert to a less safe default mode after each redesign
This means every time Facebook exclaims “Heads up, we’ve got a fresh look!” make sure to check your security settings and change them back to where you want them. Otherwise Facebook can share your info with advertisers — a primary function of their business model. And watch out for those cutesy applications like Farmville or Which Jane Austen character are you? That application gets permission to access your info and could be sharing it with others without your knowledge.
• Facebook ads may contain malware
Basically Facebook is pretty sloppy about vetting their ads, says Goodchild, which could result in you clicking on an anti-virus software ad and downloading an actual virus.
• Your real friends unknowingly make you vulnerable
If one of your friends’ profiles gets hacked by a third party, that hacker can then see whatever info you’re putting out there to your pal. So if your friends aren’t making good decisions about what they share on the Web, you could be affected as well.
• Scammers are creating fake profiles
If the world knows the name of your mother, father, second-cousin and best friend from grade school, someone out there might just make a fake profile with one of their identities and beg you to say, wire $5,000 to them after they get mugged in a foreign country. Also, if you have like, a bajillion friends, the odds are that a few of those are scammers who aren’t who they say they are. Recommendation: Trim that “Friends” list down to a few trusted folks.
As Facebook grows in influence and power, it also seems to be finding plenty of trouble to get itself into.
Just last week, users discovered that a security hole made their private chats not so private — everyone on their contact list could listen in.
In addition, more than a dozen privacy and consumer protection organizations have now filed a complaint with the FCC claiming the site plays with privacy settings intentionally to make users’ personal info fair game for commercial use.
Remember the mantra I told you from the beginning? Repeat it. Now go check (or delete) your Facebook profile.
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