I forget what round we are in of the on-going Facebook security debacle, but this latest round includes public information getting extracted from FB, formatted, and turned into a downloadable file that gives anybody who downloads it, information on 100 million Facebook users.
The information that Ron Bowes, an online security consultant, on the Internet site Pirate Bay extracted from Facebook at the time was public (due to FB users not understanding or caring about the new Facebook privacy settings), so there was no real crime committed, unless he sells the information to a third party without the consent of FB. All he really did was create some code that did a public search on all Facebook user’s information that wasn’t hidden behind privacy settings, and created a file; which, sounds like par for the course for any computer nerd, geek, hacker…or anybody data mining for valuable information.
The problem is that whenever any one of the 100 million people with information is on that list decides to make any part of their Facebook information private, or deletes their Facebook page entirely, there will still be a record of that information that will be available to anyone who chooses to download, view, and/or use it.
So for example, any information in your profile (phone no., birth date, high school, political party affiliations, images, who you are married to…any information that could be “useful” to whoever) that you did NOT choose to “remove from public search” in your Facebook security settings, could be on this list. Even if you took the time and locked down your profile, any of your FB friends who didn’t and you are mentioned by them, your name and other info could STILL be on the list.
After he scanned, downloaded, and made the information available to anyone, THEN he decides that this information is important and could be a problem. On his website, he writes:
“As I thought more about it and talked to other people, I realized that this is a scary privacy issue. I can find the name of pretty much every person on Facebook,”
Side note: If you could see the look on my face now, I would have the “you knew good and well what you were doing, and you did it anyway just to make a name for yourself” look on my face.
Moving right along, Facebook does know about the issue, but concludes in a statement mailed to msnbc.com, that in some way, this is the whole purpose behind FB – To find people and share information.
“People who use Facebook own their information and have the right to share only what they want, with whom they want, and when they want,” it said.
“Our responsibility is to respect their wishes. In this case, information that people have agreed to make public was collected by a single researcher. This information already exists in Google, Bing, other search engines, as well as on Facebook,” the statement added.
“No private data is available or has been compromised. Similar to a phone book, this is the information available to enable people to find each other, which is the reason people join Facebook. If someone does not want to be found, we also offer a number of controls to enable people not to appear in search on Facebook, in search engines, or share any information with applications.”
Yeah, in a weird way, that makes sense. One of my favorite quotes that I live by and seems to fit this new online security trend is:
“Nobody is gonna look out for you better than you”
So It would behoove anybody with a FB account (or belong to any other social networking site) to take some time and learn, understand, and apply proper security practices to ensure you are aware of what the
world internet knows about you.