Facebook Privacy – Not Even an Electron Microscope Can Find it

Facebook wants you to believe that you gave them your mobile phone number for security reasons and important notifications. The truth is that they wanted your phone number and your address to be able to share it more.

The Huffington Post reports that Facebook is going to make your address and phone number available to “application developers”. Privacy and security experts are confident that sharing this information will expose users to greater risk of being scammed.

According to Facebook users will be alerted if an application is requesting access to their phone number and address, but if you trust Facebook then look here to see what Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg thinks about you.

I highly recommend that you do not make your address and phone number available on Facebook. Remember that your privacy settings do not apply to applications that ask permission. Personally I do not install any Facebook apps at all.  If a Facebook application asks to be able to access your personal information and you have your privacy settings set to only share information with your friends, then by installing the app you have just defeated your privacy settings. You have to remember that when you give an app permission to access your personal information you give it the freedom to publicly display every message you ever wrote to anyone… private or not.

Yes, let me make sure you understand this. If you give an app permission to access your personal information, it is out of your hands and it is out of Facebook’s hands. The new changes in Facebook allow you to allow unknown app publishers to share your address, phone number, and other information with anyone they choose to.

The “privacy policies” the apps come with are virtually worthless. You generally have no idea who is behind the app and virtually no recourse if the app publisher abuses your information.

If you have provided your phone number and address to Facebook you might want to go into your profile and delete the information so that if you accidentally give an app permission to access your phone number and address it will not find any information. Alternatively you can google the phone number and address of Facebook and put that as your phone number and address! Perhaps we all should do that!

The days of the search warrant are coming to an end. With Facebook people are making so much public that law enforcement simply will no longer need such instruments.

Randy Abrams
Director of Technical Education
Cyber Threat Analysis Center
ESET North America

 

Author ESET Research, ESET

  • Craig

    Randy, in the second last paragraph, "provided you phone number" should be "provided your phone number".   :-)

    • Randy Abrams

      Thanks! Fixed!

  • Nuno

    It's a new whole paradigm, we're living. On our country, there's a government organization for personal data protection; ie: if an office owner wants to place a security camera, it needs permission from this organization, pay some fees and fill a lot of paperwork – and of course, the data must be protected since it's confidential. On the other hand, everyday, people are tagged on Facebook, others use it as a 'virtual Speakers Corner' to express their immediate ideas and opinions, share their interests, activities… Facebook was probably the missing main ingredient for social engineering attacks :)

  • Jeremy

    Heh, this is why I deleted my FB account.  Believe it or not, it wasn't nearly as easy as it sounds.  It took just under three months, and to export Facebook contacts was a bit of a chore, as well.

    FB had a good thing going from the start – but, as they continue to meddle with peoples info in examples like this, I'm all the more happy to be an un-participant.  There are just so many other FREE ways to share photos and videos that don't compromise information, FB is convenient, yes, but also redundant and just plain unnecessary.

    Thanks for the article, I sincerely hope more ppl are able to pry themselves away – it's just not worth it when having an account on a social networking site becomes a full-time job to ensure your security settings remain as desired.

  • Donna Franklin

    Anyone that uses Facebook is an idiot.

    • Randy Abrams

      Thank you. You just commented on an idoit’s blog post :)

  • Ida

    Thanks a million for this. I love my ESET and great tips. I'm always afraid of Facebook….but I still use it. I also have a business page there.

  • Margy Rydzynski

    Thanks for the warning. I've linked the blog to several sites, including my business blog and various social networks.

  • PT

    Here may be an alternative for this problem. This has worked for me and may for you too, IF you have moved in the last 10 years….especially if more than once, use the oldest address available. I have used an address & phone number from the late 1990's which if researched will show up as correct, but the building is no longer even there. Thus any info delivered or spammed to me is returned, also I now know who the spammers are by the use of this old address. Not sure if this will work if you use some elses address, but may be worth a try.

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