0Privacy Lost: 13 Million Facebook Users Not Using Privacy Controls

Posted by Guest at 5/15/2012 Posted in: ,

This is a guest post by Robert Kirk.

Short Description: Consumer Reports recently stated that 13 million Facebook users do not utilize the site's privacy controls or are not aware of their presence.

Knowing and Unknowing Victims


Facebook is attracting more and more users each day. Sadly, while the company continues to develop sophisticated privacy controls to ensure user privacy and security, the problem lies both on the “labyrinthian-like” privacy controls that it implements and the users themselves because as many as 13 million users in the USA alone were reportedly not using or unaware of these privacy controls, thereby exposing them to a wide variety of risks. The result came from the recent investigation carried out by Consumer Reports, which was based from a survey from January 16-31 of a sample of approximately 2,000 US households with Internet connection.

The report also revealed that approximately 4.8 million people are posting personal information on the social networking website that may actually be shared beyond their personal network of friends and can be used against them by identity thefts, college admission boards, potential employers and even the IRS.

Be Careful With What You Share


Although Facebook  makes it easier for people to connect with family, friends and colleagues, it does not come with its own risks. As with any other social networking sites, Facebook collects a wide variety of details – most of which are highly sensitive –  from its users. And in order to generate much of its revenue, it shares its users data with advertisers. Some users might even be surprised to know that Facebook also receives a report every time they visit a site that features a “Like” button, regardless if they click on such button, have an account on Facebook, or are even logged in.

The report also mentioned that even those users who are vigilant about their online security are still at risk because their friends or extended network can transfer their data to other third party users by using some of the applications that are popular in the said platform.

The issue isn't only with Facebook's system alone. In fact, there are also plenty of users who are lax when it comes to managing their own online privacy. The survey found that as many as 28% of Facebook users divulge most, if not all, of their wall posts to a public audience instead of limiting such details to their personal networks.

Facebook Response


In response to the privacy and safety issues, the company's CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, said they are doing privacy access checks billions of times on a daily basis.  The company also announced that in the coming weeks or months it will provide users access to portions of its security features which include date and time of Facebook log-ins, friend requests that a user made, IP address used for every session, names that were previously used, facial recognition data, and searches and views while logged in on Facebook.

Stay Protected


Facebook may have various privacy controls in place, but most of them are difficult to understand. As such, Consumer Reports provided some tips on how users can protect themselves when using Facebook.
  • Think before you type: Even if a user deletes his or her account, there some information that can stay in Facebook's system for up to 90 days. Hence, it pays to be more careful about what you put out in public.
  • Check Facebook exposure regularly: Users should check how their page appears to others and when possible review their individual privacy settings regularly.
  • Safeguard basic details: Profile items should be set accordingly and bear in mind that sharing information with “friend of friends” is a route to expose details to other people.
  • Be on the know with what cannot be protected: Since a person's name and profile photo are public, a user can protect his or her identity by not using a photo or using one that does not show his or her face.
  • Avoid putting wall posts in public: Audience for previous wall posts should be set to just friends.
  • Turn 'tag suggest' off: If a user do not want Facebook to automatically recognize his or her face in photos, he or she could disable tag feature in the privacy setting.
  • Block apps and sites that might be collecting information: Friends and other extended network can share a user's information with apps. Hence, the user should block such app or utilize controls to limit the details that the app can see.
  • Limit wall posts to specific friends: Users do not have to share all their wall posts to friends. It would be more preferable to keep certain people from seeing particular items in their profile.
  • Deactivate: This can be a solution if a user wants his or her Facebook data temporarily inaccessible. Deleting an account, on the other, is the last resort if he or she wants to make everything inaccessible forever.

About the author:

Article written by Robert Kirk who works as a writer for RFK Print Solutions an online print company who also are an SEO Company based in Scotland RFK Solutions, they have SEO clients all over Scotland and the UK.
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