Just recently, it was reported that a hacker leveraged Facebook’s Graph Search to collect information from the massive database. Data like phone numbers was obtained from thousands of users, which when matched with the username could have further implications on the users’ privacy. Facebook handled it by issuing the hacker with a cease and desist. It is not clear exactly how many Facebook users’ data was obtained, nor is it clear as to whether Facebook will choose to notify those users whose data was compromised.
The most interesting part of this particular ‘hack attack,’ is that the majority of users utilizing the feature of graph search have set their contact information to ‘public’, so was it hacked or not? Some experts are pointing their fingers at Facebook for putting their users’ data at risk by setting the default privacy settings to ‘public’. It would appear that Facebook is sitting on a dangerous line – creating interfaces that allow users to share private information publicly, and even encourages users to do so, by implementing searches via phone numbers. However, Facebook also wants to retain a sense of privacy – so which is it?
Privacy settings are immensely important to set. BullGuard recommends spending time considering your selections carefully, as according to Facebook, “Your privacy settings govern who can find you with search using the contact info you have provided such as your email address and phone number.”
Here are a few tips to help you keep what’s private, private:
- 1. Click on the lock icon on the top right of your profile and edit those privacy shortcuts settings to your convenience. More specifically, go to your Activity log, review all the photos you are tagged in and remove the tags you are not ok with, as well as all the location tags (check-ins) that you would not like to appear in search. Here’s Facebook’s instructions on revising these privacy settings. For more info take a look at this previous blog post: Does Facebook Graph Search make you an easy target to scammers?
- 2. Give your friends list an edit every once and while. Do you really intend to share information with all 350 of them?
- 3. Consider setting up friend lists, so you can be more selective about who you’re sharing information with. You might want to divide groups by Family, Work Friends, Best Friends and so on.
- 4. Install security software on your device to keep you safe from phishing scams, and set up parental controls on your kids' devices that help you keep an eye on them too – they also need protection from spammers and stalkers.
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