Facebook Boiling the Privacy Frog (You)

Facebook is preparing to give away your phone number and address to app developers and advertisers.

The frog is officially beginning to boil. Just check out all of the articles swirling around on the internet about Facebook’s latest attempt to release more of your information without your consent. This time they want to give out your phone number and address. They were pretty clear that the reason they want this information is to pass it on to developers of apps such as Farmville and advertisers that want to bolster their profile on you. They released the post late Friday afternoon – so late in fact that many news outlets didn’t pick it up until Monday. Many are accusing Facebook of trying to bury the news.

Here is what was posted:

User Address and Mobile Phone Number
We are now making a user’s address and mobile phone number accessible as part of the User Graph object. Because this is sensitive information, we have created the new user_address and user_mobile_phone permissions. These permissions must be explicitly granted to your application by the user via our standard permissions dialogs.

Although users currently have to give applications permission to access their information, there is a slight addition above to the type of information being shared. Look for  “Access my contact information”, with the subtitle “Current Address and Mobile Phone Number” (see image above). If Facebook were actually interested in making their data sharing strategy noticeable, at least they could have bolded the warning rather than the hey-don’t-pay-attention-to-me-faded-gray they used.

Of course, Facebook and their faithful application developers are banking on the assumption that most users are willing to give up their privacy in order to access Facebook and all it has to offer. But, what they fail to remember is that a phone number and address are much more sensitive pieces of your identity than your picture and email address.

When do the slowly growing invasions of our privacy by Facebook become too much to handle? When has the privacy temperature in the Facebook Database been raised to the point that users are boiling? Will users ever leave the site in order to protect their identities? Facebook is making these changes so slowly (and late in the weekly newscycle) that the average user doesn’t realize that this invasion of our privacy has gone one degree to far.

I guess the simple way to resolve the issue for now is to remove your phone number and home address from your Facebook profile so that there is nothing to share. The larger question is what will Facebook do next? You never know – such information leakage may be a requirement to use the social networking site.

John Sileo is an information survival expert whose clients include the Department of Defense, Pfizer, Homeland Security, FDIC, FTC, Federal Reserve Bank, Blue Cross Blue Shield and hundreds of corporations and organizations of all sizes. He earns his keep delivering highly motivational identity theft speeches.

The Facebook Safety Survival Guide gives you extensive background knowledge on many of the safety and privacy issues that plague social networking sites, including Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, MySpace, and others. Social networking, texting, instant messaging, video messaging, blogging – these are all amazing tools that the American workforce uses natively (and naively), as part of their everyday lives. This Guide’s purpose is to make their online vigilance and discretion just as native, so that they learn to protect the personal information they put on the web before it becomes a problem. Social networking is immensely powerful and is here for the long run, but we must learn to harness and control it.

How to Disable Facebook Places

Last week Facebook introduced a new location tracking application called Facebook Places. This gives users the ability to check in with Facebook from their mobile device and update their friends (and even tag their friends) on where they are. What many Facebook users don’t realize is that this tool is currently activated by default, and in order to turn it off, users have to go in and adjust their privacy settings. Until you do that, your friends can check you in to different locations (and you may not even be there!).

Here is the step by step process to disable Facebook Places:

1. Log into your Facebook account, and at the top right drop down menu under Account click Privacy Settings.Once you are in Privacy Settings you will see this screen:

2. Click Custom (if that isn’t your selection already) and then click below 0n Customize Settings.

3. You should see the following screen, where you will need to make 2 changes – first, to Things I share and then to Things others share. Under Things I share click on the drop-down box next to Places I check in to click custom and chose to make this visible to  Only Me.

5. Scroll down on the Customize page to Things others share:

Under Things others share click Disabled to the right of Friends can check me in to Places.

One More Thing…

There is one last step you should take. You need to adjust one last setting that allows third-party applications (such as quizzes and games) used by your friends to access your location data. Facebook makes it difficult by stating that you only need to “uncheck the new box in your Privacy Settings under “Applications and Websites.” Facebook should have specified which box they were talking about, and they should NOT have turned this on by default. Alas, in reality, we’re not working with what Facebook should do, but what we must do to turn off data leakage.

Go back to the main privacy page (above) and under the heading, “Applications and Websites.”click on “Edit your settings.” You should now be looking at a screen similar to the one below. Click on the “Edit Settings” button across from “Info accessible through your friends.”

You should see a pop-up window (like the one below) that lists a variety of identity information from your profile including biography, birthday, hometown, current city, and so forth. Any of these items that are checked off are available to third-party applications used by your friends.

Find the checkbox called “Places I check in to,” and uncheck it (if you don’t want third-party applications that your friends use to harvest your check-in data). While you are here, uncheck any other data that you don’t want your friends sharing with corporate America.

TIP: Third-party applications you use personally can gather your geographic data only if you authorize that application to do so. The downside is that if you don’t want an application to access your location data then you won’t be able to use that application.

These steps will help tighten your security and minimize the amount of location tracking data that is stored and shared. Facebook, however, will always reserve the right to collect and utilize this data internally, but that’s the price you pay for using Facebook. Although this disables Facebook Places now, it is best to stay current on the changes that Facebook is making and always check your privacy settings to make sure that you are protected.

John Sileo became one of America’s leading Social Networking Security Speakers. You can learn more about Facebook Safety and how to protect yourself online here. His clients include the Department of Defense, Pfizer and the FDIC. To learn more about having him speak at your next meeting or conference, contact him by email or on 800.258.8076.

Facebook Status Update Leads to Robbery

When you are ‘friends’ with people on Facebook that you are not actually friends with, how do you know whether they have good intentions?

A recent segment on CNN discusses the risks that you may be taking while updating your Facebook status. You don’t know who is looking at your private information because it’s truly not private – it’s public. Keri McMullen found this out the hard way after she posted a simple status message that she was going to see a band with her fiancé. It only took the burglars calling the venue to find out what time the show was to let them know when they could break into her home. The burglars showed up 35 minutes after the McMullens left for the concert.

It is that simple. You post a casual message to your “friends” that could turn into a nightmare where, like Keri, you lose upwards of $11,000 in personal property. They were lucky that they had cameras installed in the home and were able to catch the perpetrators on film. After posting pictures of them on her Facebook page (a good use of social networking), another friend recognized the intruders as Keri’s high school classmates.

Keri’s experience shows other Facebook users that, even though you may have known an individual at one time, if you do not interact with them and know their character now, then how can you trust them? Remember you don’t have to be Facebook friends with everyone you have ever spoken to. By keeping your ‘friends’ limited, you are lessening your risk of becoming a victim. No matter what privacy setting you have on your Facebook profile, your posts are public, permanent and exploitable.

John Sileo is an an award-winning author and keynote speaker on identity theft, internet privacy, fraud training & technology defense. John specializes in making security entertaining, so that it works. John is CEO of The Sileo Group, whose clients include the Pentagon, Visa, Homeland Security & Pfizer. John’s body of work includes appearances on 60 Minutes, Rachael Ray, Anderson Cooper & Fox Business. Contact him directly on 800.258.8076.

Facebook Hits 500 Million Users: 3rd Largest Country

Facebook has the Population of the Third Largest Country

Wednesday, July 21, 2010 marked a big day for Facebook. CEO and founder Mark Zuckerberg announced in a blog post that the social networking website hit over 500 million users in only 6 years.

If you take a look at the worlds largest countries in terms of population (as of today according to Wikipedia) you find that China is #1 with 1,339,130,000, India is #2 with 1,184,513,000 and #3 is the United States with only 309,944,000. This would mean that if Facebook were a real country with their population of 500,000,000, then it would clearly surpass the USA for the #3 ranking.

Many believe that Facebook will hit a billion users in less than a year by looking the rapid growth they have encountered since their founding.  With their fast expansion the privacy issues on the website keep mounting as well. Make sure when you are using Facebook you are using it with the best possible protections – your common sense. Click here to learn more on Facebook Safety for users and parents of users.

John Sileo became one of America’s leading Social Networking Speakers & sought after Identity Theft Experts after he lost his business and more than $300,000 to identity theft and data breach. John’s latest book Privacy Means Profit, hit stands August 9, 2010 and bridges the gap between personal identity theft and corporate data breach. His clients include the Department of Defense, Pfizer and the FDIC. To learn more about having him speak at your next meeting or conference, contact him by email or on 800.258.8076.

Facebook Installs a Panic Button for Children

According to a recent Yahoo! article, Facebook has created a new “Panic Button” for London users to help protect children on the social networking site. This new function gives the youngsters the ability to easily report a problem or suspicious activity to the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP) and Facebook.

The Panic Button will automatically appear on the homepage of users between the ages of 13 and 18 years old. Recently Facebook has been scrutinized because of their relaxed privacy controls and lack of protection for all users, including children. This marks another effort by Facebook  to attempt to calm users concerns and team up with other organizations to offer protection to younger participants. In the US, Facebook is teaming up with the Parent Teacher Association to help keep children informed and safe while using the website.

Facebook vice-president Joanna Shields added: “There is no single silver bullet to making the Internet safer but by joining forces with CEOP we have developed a comprehensive solution which marries our expertise in technology with CEOP’s expertise in online safety”.

It is important to be educated when dealing with any form of social media or social networking website. You should know the ins and outs, pros and cons, risks and rewards to using these online tools.  For more information on Facebook Safety and protecting your children online, check out our Facebook Safety Survival Guide.

Read the Entire Article: Facebook installs ‘panic button’ for children

John Sileo is the award-winning author of Stolen Lives, Privacy Means Profit and the Facebook Safety Survival Guide. His professional speaking clients include the Department of Defense, the FTC, FDIC, Pfizer, Prudential and hundreds of other organizations that care about their information privacy. Contact him directly on 800.258.8076.