Facebook’s casual attitude toward its users’ privacy is not recent news. However, security specialist Ron Bowes has shown just how shockingly easy it is to snap up user information from Facebook.
Bowes has set up a website after crawling through the Facebook online directory. The open access directory lists all the users who have their profile security preferences set to public. Facebook enacted a universal privacy reset last year, enabling both search engines and netizens to access the profile pages of its users.
Despite the backlash from privacy-conscious users and consumer rights advocates, some members of Facebook remain unaware that their private information has been released online. Or had tried to reset their profiles to private, but found the process too complicated.
As a result, the Facebook open directory contains 171 million entries, relating to more than 100 million individual users. Bowes compiled all this information into a torrent that can be downloaded from his website. The torrent file itself contains user account names, dates of birth, addresses, phone numbers and each user’s profile page.
Yet given Facebook’s sketchy history with user privacy, this is hardly surprising. In January, the site’s co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg declared that with the advent of social media, the age of privacy is over. His sentiment is that people have more important things to worry about then who can access their user information.
Given that Facebook boasts 500 million users (and still growing), it appears Zuckerberg may be right.
So the first question is: have you changed your privacy setting on Facebook yet?
If not, then the second question is: is it because you don’t actually care?
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