Facebook and Your Digital Shadow
A PR campaign launched to promote a new game from Ubisoft has highlighted the holes that many people leave in their Facebook privacy settings. You can take this inadvertent security test to get an idea of what stalkers and identity thieves might be able to learn about you from your Facebook profile and activity. If the results are unsettling, I have some tips for you on tightening up your privacy settings. Read on!
How Secure Are Your Facebook Privacy Settings?
Do you know the impact that your friends and Facebook apps can have on your privacy? Go to Digital Shadow and click the “log in with Facebook” link. Don’t let the sinister special effects on the site scare you; it’s just part of the mood-setting for the game. Clicking the link will allow the site to pull public information from your Facebook pages and compile a dossier on you.
You’ll learn how vulnerable you are to facial recognition; how closely Facebook can estimate your physical location; which friends you interact with the most; which “friends” are of little significance to you; when you are most active on Facebook; and more about your Facebook activities and relationships. The Digital Shadow app describes how this data can be used to infiltrate your real-world and online lives.
Friends can be vulnerabilities; the more familiar a person is to you, the easier it is to get you to accept an imposter as the real McCoy and persuade you to click on a link to malware, or give the bogus friend sensitive personal information. It’s even easier to impersonate someone with whom you don’t interact very often.
Knowing when you are most active on Facebook tells a hacker when you are connected to the Internet, and that’s when it’s possible to probe your device’s security.
Take Control of Your Facebook Privacy
To review and perhaps tighten up your privacy settings, click on the icon shaped like a closed lock in the upper-right corner of any Facebook page. (On my screen, it's a dark blue icon on a blue background -- a bit hard to notice unless you're looking for it.) A drop-down menu of “privacy shortcuts” will appear.
Click on Who can see my stuff? to review and fine-tune the settings which control what posts, pictures, and profile information you share with the public, friends, friends of friends, and even more exclusive circles that you can create, such as “family” or “coworkers.”
The Use Activity Log link will show you things you've posted or been tagged in, and who can see them.
The View As… option lets you view your Facebook pages as if you were an anonymous member of the general public, not even logged into Facebook. You can also enter the Facebook username of any user to view your pages as that person. After clicking “Who can see my stuff?” you'll see the "View as" link underneath "What do other people see on my timeline?"
Apps, Friends and Friendly Fire
Another good thing to check is the apps that are connected to your account. When adding an app, they can (and do) ask for permission to view all sorts of personal information, including your friend lists, news feed, relationships, birthday, work history, status updates, education history, groups, hometown, interests, current city, photos, religious and political views, follows and followers, your "likes" and even your friends' status updates and photos. Some apps can even post to your Facebook page.
I trust very few Facebook apps, and often remove them after use. (I just did that with the Digital Shadow app.) To see which apps are connected to your Facebook account, and what they are able to view, click this App Settings link. Click Edit to see an app's permissions, or the little "x" to remove the app.
It's a good idea to do a spring cleaning on your friend list, too. Do you really know and care about all of those people? Have you properly limited what those friends can see about you and your Facebook activities?
Facebook privacy settings are complicated and confusing (and maybe that's intentional). It pays to view yourself as others can view you from time to time, and to make adjustments to privacy settings, apps and friend lists as necessary.
Your thoughts on this topic are welcome. Post your comment or question below...
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 5 May 2014
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- Facebook and Your Digital Shadow (Posted: 5 May 2014)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved