No Privacy in Facebook Land

Do You Enjoy Exposing Yourself?

15 privacy and consumer protection organizations filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission, charging that the site, among other things, manipulates privacy settings to make users’ personal information available for commercial use. Also, some Facebook users found their private chats accessible to everyone on their contact list–a major security breach that’s left a lot of people wondering just how secure the site is.

  1. Your information is being shared with third parties
  2. Privacy settings revert to a less safe default mode after each redesign
  3. Facebook ads may contain malware
  4. Your real friends unknowingly make you vulnerable
  5. Scammers are creating fake profiles

Is Facebook a secure platform to communicate with your friends? 
Here’s the thing: Facebook is one of the most popular sites in the world. Security holes are being found on a regular basis. It is not as inherently secure as people think it is, when they log on every day.

The potential for crime is real. According to the Internet Crime Complaint Center, victims of Internet-related crimes lost $876 million in 2018. That was up 63 percent from the previous year. If you’re not careful using Facebook, you are looking at the potential for identity theft, or possibly even something like assault, if you share information with a dangerous person you think is actually a “friend.” One British police agency recently reported that the number of crimes it has responded to in the last year involving Facebook climbed 346 percent. These are real threats. it seems a week doesn’t go by without some news about a Facebook-related security problem.

And the site is constantly under attack from hackers trying to spam these users, or harvest their data, or run other scams. Certainly, there is a lot of criticism in the security community of Facebook’s handling of security. Perhaps the most frustrating thing is that the company rarely responds to inquiries.

Do people really have privacy on Facebook? 
No. There are all kinds of ways third parties can access information about you. For instance, you may not realize that, when you are playing the popular games on Facebook, or take those popular quizzes–every time you do that, you authorize an application to be downloaded to your profile that gives information to third parties about you that you have never signed off on. It actually is basically a way to share the information in your profile with all kinds of third parties, such as advertisers, so they can have a better idea of your interests and what you are discussing, so Facebook can–as portrayed–“make it a more personal experience.”

Isn’t it in Facebook’s best interest to get you to share as much info as possible? 
It absolutely is. Facebook’s mission is to get you to share as much information as it can so it can share it with advertisers. As it looks now, the more info you share, the more money it is going to make with advertisers.

Isn’t there also a security problem every time it redesigns the site? 
Every time Facebook redesigns the site, which [usually] happens a few times a year, it puts your privacy settings back to a default in which, essentially, all of your information is made public. It is up to you, the user, to check the privacy settings and decide what you want to share and what you don’t want to share.

Facebook does not [necessarily] notify you of the changes, and your privacy settings are set back to a public default. Many times, you may find out through friends. Facebook is not alerting you to these changes; it is just letting you know the site has been redesigned.

Can your real friends on Facebook also can make you vulnerable? 
Absolutely. Your security is only as good as your friend’s security. If someone in your network of friends has a weak password, and his or her profile is hacked, he or she can now send you malware, for example.

There is a common scam called a 419 scam, in which someone hacks your profile and sends messages to your friends asking for money – claiming to be you–saying, “Hey, I was in London, I was mugged, please wire me money.” People fall for it. People think their good friend needs help–and end up wiring money to Nigeria.

This interview, is sourced from “Five Hidden Dangers of Facebook,” and was originally published on CBSNews.com. c|net

Quit using Facebook. Break the addiction.