New Facebook features not as useful – or private – as they seem

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I've just read an interesting article here. Facebook has launched a new Groups feature which you think might help you organise your friends vs work contacts, but it's not as useful as it seems. Other people can apparently add whoever they want to your group. So much for controlling your own account and your privacy. And it gets worse. Seems that if you have an iPhone and use it to connect with Facebook, syncing may take your telephone numbers from your iPhone and attempt to connect them with users on Facebook if you set up your FB wrongly to work on the iPhone. Here's the article in full, from the Geek With Laptop website: 'Facebook have just launched “groups” on the popular social networking site, apparently so that you can have more control over the way you socialise or communicate with different groups of people. The idea behind it is that just like in the real world, there is information you might only want to share with your family or your friends or business colleagues and so on. Facebook doesn’t create these groups for you automatically; you actually get to put your own little groups together. “We’ve long heard that people would find Facebook more useful if it were easier to connect with smaller groups of their friends instead of always sharing with everyone they know. For some it’s their immediate family and for others it’s their fantasy football league, but the common concern is always some variant of, ‘I’d share this thing, but I don’t want to bother 250 people. Or my grandmother. Or my boss.’” Mark Zuckerberg said in a blog post. However, as usual where Facebook is concerned, all might not be as it seems, so let me explain. What users might not be aware of is that once you create a group, other people in that group can also add whoever they want to it and you have absolutely no control over that, so it isn’t exactly your own group is it. (Mark Zuckerberg was embarrassingly added to a group earlier this month which shows just how ill-thought-out the group feature is at the moment - click here to read.) What is far more worrying though, is a report in the Guardian newspaper outlining how a syncing feature on the iPhone (and possibly Android phones too) takes all the telephone numbers of all your contacts and uploads them to the site, Facebook then attempts to match the contact data to a particular user and this information is then visible to others. “It’s very possible that your private phone numbers – and those of lots of your and their friends – are on the site” said Charles Arthur of the Guardian newspaper. (NB - the full article is here ). Arthur goes on to quote Kurt von Moos, who had earlier written about Facebook stealing contact info. “Phone numbers are private and valuable. Most people who have entrusted you with their phone numbers assume you will keep them private and safe. If you were to ask your friends, family or co-workers if they are ok with you uploading their private phone numbers to be cross-referenced with other Facebook users, how many of them do you think would be ok with it?” Not many I suspect. It would be interesting to hear what others think, have you encountered this problem?' Personally I'm wary about what I put on Facebook. Anyone who puts their full date of birth including the year on their public profile, or even makes it visible to just friends, is asking for trouble. Identity theft anyone? Be wary about how much you share with anyone on any social media platform. What happens in Vegas doesn't stay in Vegas - it stays visible on servers somewhere forever, and your privacy could be compromised.

Are you still on Facebook?

Posted by | Services, Social Media | No Comments
So it's International Quit Facebook Day. I'll be interested to read tomorrow how many people actually quit; I'm sure it'll be in the news somewhere. Or someone will tweet it. Here's the news so far. There's been a lot of panic in the media over here this month - see this article and this one for examples. Facebook's privacy policy is an overlong nightmare, but let's be realistic for a moment. Key advice: be sensible what you put on Facebook. Carefully look at your settings to see how much information you're giving out. For example, don't be daft and display your full date of birth and the town you were born in. Identity thieves may love you for it, but do you really want their love? (And if you're worried that the folk at Facebook themselves might do something nasty with your identity, cross your fingers behind your back and type in a different date of birth to your actual one. Not nice, I know, but we all have a ton of information out there in the ether these days; protect it as you can.) If in doubt, click the options which give out the least information to the world, and keep your wider profile visible only to your friends (and even then, do think about just how much info you want to give out). As with LinkedIn, it's a good idea to only allow people you actually know to befriend you, or possibly friends of people you trust, if you are concerned about your privacy and identity. Yes, that might mean you don't have 567 friends - you might only have 80 - but they are people you actually know. If you're a business person and you're using your personal Facebook account for business, be sensible about what images you load up. Nobody wants to see you drunk and disorderly at a party. It might have been fun at the time, but it could influence the way future clients think about you. You have less control about the tags other people put on their photos, but you can control your own account as you like. Realistically, if you're going to use Facebook for business, start a business page. Keep it businesslike. Attract fans. Direct your clients to it. Make it a separate identity to your own Facebook personal page. Facebook is growing in popularity as a business tool. I don't, at this point, use it for my own company but I do maintain a business page for one of my clients. It's another way to advertise your products and services for free using viral marketing. Oh, and think about this: Facebook has received a ton of publicity this month. Even if it wasn't all good, it's the name that's on everyone's lips, or fingertips.