Today is the last day of May and, for some people, the last day their Facebook accounts are available online. Recent changes to Facebook’s privacy settings are regarded as rather confusing and not readily apparent to users. Not even the latest update that Facebook made last May 26, which attempted to address its long-running issue with user privacy, was enough to make critics feel secure. The discontent—and even outrage for some users—eventually spurred a group of individuals to declare May 31st as “Quit Facebook Day.”
Facebook is one of the newer and very active social networks on the planet today. Its open attitude to third-party development and widget features from the get-go was one of its major moving changes. This led the way to how people viewed social networking today—a more fun and interactive online community. It took some of the best ideas from various existing sites and seamlessly integrated them.
However, to become the widely connected social network that it is today, Facebook had to compromise the privacy of a lot of the data that users post and share on the site. While this may provide a good way for users to be more “social” on the site, it is also the major issue that is pushing a large number of users to cancel their accounts.
Perhaps the question is not limited to “Should users quit Facebook?” but “Should users quit social networking altogether?” Compared with other social networks that came before it, Facebook has done a whole lot better than most of these pioneer sites did. In terms of available data, those sites were even more unprotected then than they are now.
Another aspect of this privacy issue is how users tend to behave online. With or without Facebook, unenlightened users will make a mistake and divulge private information no matter what social network you drop them in to.
As senior threat researcher Alice Decker puts it, “There is no reason to assume that people don’t know what they are doing. I have never heard anybody say that they actually don’t want to share their private information.”
Antivirus engineer Joseph Cepe adds, “Users who sign up for an account have every intention to connect and reach out to others. Setting up a secure account is probably the least of a new user’s priorities.”
If you don’t want it out there, don’t share it.
TrendLabsSM research engineer Jayronn Bucu notes that creating an account on a social networking site comes with the intention of sharing information via the Internet. “Facebook carries the vision of creating a more open place. If there are no threats… then we could freely connect and share. However, that’s not how things roll.”
As we all know, the proliferation of online threats such as the KOOBFACE malware is another popular Facebook issue that threatens the privacy of user information within the network. The TrendLabs Malware Blog has discussed this threat in the following posts:
At the end of the day, keeping personal information private is still the user’s responsibility. If you don’t want it out there, don’t share it. Your real friends online should also be aware of your decision and respect it, otherwise they aren’t your friends after all. Perhaps the better question one should consider is, “Is it time to de-friend your social network’s weakest link?”