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Facebook’s Latest Privacy Options December 10, 2009

Posted by Talha Izhar in Technology.
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Today, Facebook announced their new privacy policy and users are shown a page where they can see their default privacy and change it according to the new one.

Having identified many facebook security issues, I was expecting some loopholes in the new policy as well. Today, after I changed my privacy setting and then clicked on the random users in the users you may know box I found many many users I have no connection with or I am not friends with have their information available to public. WTF is Facebook trying to do here?? Providing data to Search Engines? By default alot of information about many users is available including pictures, friends list etc.

There were a few security issues with photo albums previously, users were able to see pictures of people they were not friends with using the API functions and users with pictures not set to the maximum security were not aware that people not in their friends list can see their pictures.

Facebook later fixed this issue, by restricting it through the API call but I can still see the pictures through direct URL stored in my system.

So whats the point of having security when you are making the user privacy a joke???? By introducing new privacy policy just to feed information to the search engines??

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Comments»

1. Lateef - December 10, 2009

So true man – I ran a few tests earlier this year to try to crack the automatic URL strings assigned to ‘private’ photos and picked up several easily predicted patterns…not sure if they’ve changed them as of today.

But still – Facebook knows that a good percentage of users want totally locked-down, private, profiles – every time they release their new privacy briefings they lead users on to believe that they have total control of their privacy settings. Apparently, not so.

All the same, Facebook is a business – not a public service…and ultimately, they can do whatever they want…their alienation of users that want totally private profiles will just open up the market for competitors that will fill this need – especially with the rise of DIY social networks like Ning and KickApps that give people with limited web development experience the power to create their own social networks, with their own security and privacy settings – it’s totally plausible now for large families to have their own social network – where they can post photos of their children, and list sensitive data like telephone numbers and home addresses without inhibitions.

And Facebook…you better believe that large, well-funded web giants like Google via Wave, MSN, and now AOL (without Time Warner) will be making moves to capitalize on your shortcomings.

2. Talha Izhar - December 11, 2009

@Lateef: Agree with you. Facebook needs to realize why alot of people switched from orkut to facebook. It wasnt just the apps, it was the privacy that made people join facebook. To retain the users, facebook should ensure that they stick to their USP and not give into the external pressures to release the data for Search Engines.

3. Facebook’s Latest Privacy Options | Tea Break - December 11, 2009

[...] This cup of tea was served by: Chatter Box [...]

4. rabia garib - December 11, 2009

@Lateef has a point about the “your weaknesses are our going to be our strengths” approach… We live in a world where we have virtually unlimited choices – if you don’t like one service, move onto the next one. As the Web becomes more of an integrated entrance into the various parts of our lives with options like OpenID and Gravatars which can be pulled and used across services, it won’t be long before we won’t even have to GO to a community… elements of the community will be moving with us. The approach and perspective will change.

Reason for alluding to this is because as time goes by, we have an increasing list of choices. It was Orkut yesterday, Facebook today… If it makes users feel too exposed, they’ll simply flock somewhere else.. Your service is only as good as the people who make it up.

Great reading the entry, Talha! Looking forward more from the Chatterbox ;-)

5. Talha Izhar - December 11, 2009

@Rabia: Thank you and welcome to ChatterBox.. As for the point you made, I know alot of friends who have moved onto twitter and we might see more people leaving facebook.


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