Categorized | Features, General

Facebook Is Spying on You

FB logoSix ways your privacy could be compromised

A billion people worldwide use Facebook to share details of their lives with their friends. Trouble is, they also might be unintentionally divulging matters they consider private—to friends…coworkers, clients and employers…marketing companies…and even to competitors, scammers and identity thieves.

Six ways Facebook could be compromising your private information and how to protect yourself…

1. The new Timeline format exposes your old mistakes. Timeline, introduced in late 2011, makes it easy for people to search back through your old Facebook posts, something that was very difficult to do in the past. That could expose private matters and embarrassing photos that you’ve long since forgotten posting.

What to do: To hide Timeline posts that you do not wish to be public, hold the cursor over the post, click the pencil icon that appears in the upper-right corner, then click “Hide from Timeline” or “Delete.”

2. Facebook apps steal personal details about you—even details that you specifically told Facebook you wished to keep private. Third-party apps are software applications available through Facebook but created by other companies. These include games and quizzes popular on Facebook such as FarmVille and Words with Friends, plus applications such as Skype, TripAdvisor and Yelp. Most Facebook apps are free—the companies that offer them make their money by harvesting personal details about users from their Facebook pages, then selling that information to advertisers.

Many apps collect only fairly innocuous information, such as age, hometown and gender, that probably is not secret. But others dig deep into Facebook data, even accessing information that you may have designated private, such as religious affiliation, political leanings and sexual orientation.

What to do: Read user agreements and privacy policies carefully to understand what information you are agreeing to share before signing up for any app. The free Internet tool Privacyscore is one way to evaluate the privacy policies of the apps you currently use (www.Facebook.com/privacyscore). You also can tighten privacy settings by clicking the lock icon in the upper-right-hand corner. Select “See More Settings,” then choose “Apps” from the left menu. Under “Apps You Use,” click “Edit” to see your privacy options.

3. Facebook “like” buttons spy on you—even when you don’t click on them. Each time you click a “like” button on a Web site, you broadcast your interest in a subject not just to your Facebook friends but also to Facebook and its advertising partners.

But if you’re a Facebook user and you visit a Web page that has a “like” button, Facebook will record that you visited that page even if you don’t click “like.” Facebook claims to keep Web-browsing habits private, but there’s no guarantee that the information won’t get out.

What to do: One way to prevent Facebook from knowing where you go online is to set your Web browser to block all cookies. Each browser has a different procedure for doing this, and you will have to re-enter your user ID and password each time you visit certain Web sites.

Alternatively, to eliminate cookies created during a specific browser session, you can use the “InPrivate Browsing” mode (Internet Explorer), “Incognito” mode (Google Chrome) or “Private Browsing” mode (Firefox and Safari).

There also are free plug-ins to stop Facebook from tracking you, such as Facebook Blocker (www.Webgraph.com/resources/facebookblocker).

To be continued

 

Leave a Reply

Newsletter

Archives

FB logoSix ways your privacy could be compromised

A billion people worldwide use Facebook to share details of their lives with their friends. Trouble is, they also might be unintentionally divulging matters they consider private—to friends…coworkers, clients and employers…marketing companies…and even to competitors, scammers and identity thieves.

Six ways Facebook could be compromising your private information and how to protect yourself…

Insert Ads Here

1. The new Timeline format exposes your old mistakes. Timeline, introduced in late 2011, makes it easy for people to search back through your old Facebook posts, something that was very difficult to do in the past. That could expose private matters and embarrassing photos that you’ve long since forgotten posting.

What to do: To hide Timeline posts that you do not wish to be public, hold the cursor over the post, click the pencil icon that appears in the upper-right corner, then click “Hide from Timeline” or “Delete.”

2. Facebook apps steal personal details about you—even details that you specifically told Facebook you wished to keep private. Third-party apps are software applications available through Facebook but created by other companies. These include games and quizzes popular on Facebook such as FarmVille and Words with Friends, plus applications such as Skype, TripAdvisor and Yelp. Most Facebook apps are free—the companies that offer them make their money by harvesting personal details about users from their Facebook pages, then selling that information to advertisers.

Many apps collect only fairly innocuous information, such as age, hometown and gender, that probably is not secret. But others dig deep into Facebook data, even accessing information that you may have designated private, such as religious affiliation, political leanings and sexual orientation.

What to do: Read user agreements and privacy policies carefully to understand what information you are agreeing to share before signing up for any app. The free Internet tool Privacyscore is one way to evaluate the privacy policies of the apps you currently use (www.Facebook.com/privacyscore). You also can tighten privacy settings by clicking the lock icon in the upper-right-hand corner. Select “See More Settings,” then choose “Apps” from the left menu. Under “Apps You Use,” click “Edit” to see your privacy options.

3. Facebook “like” buttons spy on you—even when you don’t click on them. Each time you click a “like” button on a Web site, you broadcast your interest in a subject not just to your Facebook friends but also to Facebook and its advertising partners.

But if you’re a Facebook user and you visit a Web page that has a “like” button, Facebook will record that you visited that page even if you don’t click “like.” Facebook claims to keep Web-browsing habits private, but there’s no guarantee that the information won’t get out.

What to do: One way to prevent Facebook from knowing where you go online is to set your Web browser to block all cookies. Each browser has a different procedure for doing this, and you will have to re-enter your user ID and password each time you visit certain Web sites.

Alternatively, to eliminate cookies created during a specific browser session, you can use the “InPrivate Browsing” mode (Internet Explorer), “Incognito” mode (Google Chrome) or “Private Browsing” mode (Firefox and Safari).

There also are free plug-ins to stop Facebook from tracking you, such as Facebook Blocker (www.Webgraph.com/resources/facebookblocker).

To be continued