Facebook and Your Privacy, Or Lack Thereof

Dec 05, 2012

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Facebook privacy

Facebook privacy is starting to sound more and more like an oxymoron. The company is now selling data about its users to advertisers and other companies, though it insists that the companies never see individual data, only the results of aggregate data.

Because of the amount of information Facebook has gathered on its users, advertisers are able to target consumers directly with the brands they ‘like,’ sometimes going so far as to show users ads for products that they had just been looking at on other sites, because they are able to track users from site to site. Eventually, Facebook hopes to be able to place its ads on all sites that their users visit.

The fact that Facebook users are exposing enough of their personal information to make this a profitable business is frightening. If users are putting this much information on their profiles, who else is looking? Identity theft is a real concern, and the more information you put online, the easier you make it for identity thieves.

Practicing basic online safety and never sharing your email address, phone number, physical address, birth date, and other personal information online will help to protect you against identity theft. Facebook is required to ask you for your birth date to verify that users are over 13 years old, but that doesn’t mean that you have to make that information publically viewable on your profile.

Another common faux pas that users make is posting their private contact information on someone else’s public Facebook wall instead of sending it in a message. Once you post something on someone else’s wall, it’s out of your control. Anyone who has access to their wall can see what you’ve posted. Depending on the other person’s privacy settings, that could range from just that person’s friends to anyone on Facebook.  And anyone on Facebook could use that information to steal your identity.

I work for ContentWatch and all opinions expressed here are my own.