(Not so) Private Facebook Profiles – What you need to know.

shieldSo, you have meticulously gone through all of your Facebook account and privacy settings and locked everything down. You have set everything to “Friends Only” or “Only Me.” You think that you are pretty well protected from people you don’t want finding you right?…Wrong!

It appears that profiles that have been set to private are just excluded from searches only. These profiles remain viewable when people manually browse a list of friends that includes the profile. As you know, each user chooses how visible they want their friends list to be. This means just one person on your friends list with liberal privacy settings can leave your seemingly private profile exposed to others.

Justin E. Dian, a software developer, reported the bug to The Register. Dian found the bug when he received repeated friend requests from people he didn’t want finding him. He stated that he had his account locked down as tight as possible, but still he was receiving the requests.

Facebook implemented tighter privacy controls due to public outcry. The new controls were supposed to give the user strict control of who is actually permitted to view their personal profile information.

Facebook confirmed that certain user information remains public no matter what privacy settings are chosen. These settings include: the URL to personal profiles, profile pictures and networks. A Facebook spokesperson stated, “The basic information that allows friends to find and connect with people is available to everyone and has no privacy settings.” Facebook would not confirm or deny if they have plans to alter these settings in the future.

Dian further explained how a script could be written to mine the data and browse the records of friends of friends. The end result could create a sizable database that contains a person’s name, profile picture, networks and sex. The bottom line is that no matter what your privacy settings are, your most basic profile informationthis is never totally private.


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