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I spy with my beady eye ...

14 May 2010

Facebook furore

There has been a rash of complaints about Facebook's privacy policies and practices over the past few days, creating enough of a stir to draw in even the mighty BBC as well as the mainstream press. The crux of the matter is that Facebook, like other social networking sites, encourages people to post personal information about themselves and their friends, contacts, relatives and acquaintances: establishing links to other people is the 'networking' part of social networking. Short of some form of virtual diode, those links are bidirectional, in other words if you link to me, then someone can probably retrace that link from me back to you.

Publishing personal links and other personal information in any online forum is not considered A Good Idea from the privacy and identity theft perspective. This includes publishing personal information about other people, not just yourself. Therefore, we are all at risk from inappropriate publication of our personal details by our naive friends, contacts, relatives and acquaintances on social networking sites, or indeed on any other public forum.

This means you may need to make the effort to educate your friends, contacts, relatives and acquaintances about your privacy rights and their privacy obligations. Let them know in no uncertain terms if you do not want them to violate your privacy. The Facebook furore demonstrates just how important this is. Even if you don't personally use Facebook and similar social networking sites (such as LinkeDin) yourself, take a moment to search them for your details and prepare to be shocked at how much information about you might already be Out There, thanks to your friends, contacts, relatives and acquaintances writing about you, tagging photos of you, mentioning you in their banale diaries or whatever. Because identity thieves may already be doing that ...

Blog comments are open - go ahead, make my day. Regards, Gary

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