News24

Facebook users unaware of privacy risks

2012-05-03 19:10

Washington - Many users of Facebook are unaware of the privacy risks from the massive social network site or fail to take adequate precautions, a report by Consumers Reports said on Thursday.

The report found nearly 13 million US Facebook users do not use, or are not aware of the site's privacy controls.

An estimated 4.8 million Americans have posted about where they planned to go on a certain day - a potential tip-off to burglars, the report noted.

And it found that 4.7 million have "liked" a Facebook page about health conditions or treatments, details that insurers might use against them.

The report, part of the non-profit group's State of the Net survey, estimated that seven million households using Facebook said they had trouble last year, ranging from someone using their log-in without permission to being harassed or threatened. That was up 30% from the previous year.

Only 37% of Facebook users said they have used the site's privacy tools to customize how much information is shared with third parties, according to the Consumer Reports survey.

"Facebook really is changing the way the world socially communicates and has become a successful service in part by leveraging copious amounts of personal data that can be spread far wider than its users might realize," said Jeff Fox, Consumer Reports technology editor.

"Our investigation revealed some fascinating, and some disquieting trends -- but ones always worth knowing for consumers who wish to keep their personal data under better control."

The report indicates Facebook gathers a considerable amount of information from users that they may not be aware of.

"Some users might be surprised to know that Facebook gets a report every time they visit a site with a 'Like' button, regardless of whether or not they click on that button, have a Facebook account, or are even logged in," the organization said.

It did give credit to Facebook for taking privacy and security "seriously" by implementing checks against abuses and inappropriate applications.

But Consumer Reports said Facebook should do more by fixing "a security lapse" that permits users to set up weak passwords including some six-letter dictionary words and to help users avoid inadvertently sharing status updates with the public.

Consumer Reports points out that all of this data collection is not without risks.

The report was based on a survey from January 16-31 of a sample of 2 002 people.

The number of people using Facebook worldwide had risen to 901 million by the end of the quarter, according to company documents.

Facebook is expected to make its much-anticipated stock market debut in the coming weeks in a public offering which could raise as much as $10bn, the largest flotation ever by an internet company on Wall Street.

Comments
  • Andile - 2012-05-03 20:15

    Anyone who can go and burgle someone else's house because they read on facebook that the home-owner is not around is plain stupid. It is an unplanned suicide.

      Aristar - 2012-05-04 05:20

      Facebook is stupid and so is media24 for insisting one use a facebook account. I created one of anonymity because I want to comment but I did not use my real name or my address or anything of a private nature. not even my birthdate. So you don't have to tell the world what you are doing or how you are doing it. Adjust your privacy measure to you alone and none of your friends.

  • mknnko003 - 2012-05-03 20:38

    I said before on http://www.news24.com/MyNews24/Things-are-not-what-they-seem-to-be-20120410. Clearly not surprised!

  • malwandlalpascal.chauke - 2012-05-03 20:40

    I dd nt knw all diz,bt nw i knw,

  • Adrian - 2012-05-03 20:46

    If anyone robbed my home when I'm not there, and they read it on Facebook that I was out.....well then they must be one of my Facebook friends that I know!

      Felix - 2012-05-04 09:14

      Not if you haven't updated your security in the privacy settings, like it says in the article above.

  • Ina - 2012-05-03 21:01

    How would they know where you live? One does not give home addresses on FB?

      Felix - 2012-05-04 09:15

      School, hometown, work with a picture of you is enough for any thief to find you.

  • mikembengo - 2012-05-03 21:11

    Listen to this guys!

  • Dee - 2012-05-04 02:11

    Indeed ... and now they want people to notify the world about your availability for organ transplants - like an invitation to murder for some?! And whats with every associated site wanting to publish your details, pedigree and friends pedigrees? NO WAYS!!!!

  • Aristar - 2012-05-04 05:23

    Facebook is stupid and so is media24 for insisting one use a facebook account. I created one of anonymity because I want to comment but I did not use my real name or my address or anything of a private nature. not even my birthdate. So you don't have to tell the world what you are doing or how you are doing it. Adjust your privacy measure to you alone and none of your friends. If you are so hard up for real friends then don't use FACEBOOK. It is the biggest time waster. Who the hell cares if you have ingrown toenails or have a grandchild except your immediate family. You people need help if all you do is play on facebook.

      Felix - 2012-05-04 09:18

      It can be very useful in some circumstances, getting in touch with long lost friends and group events. Some people just abuse it.

  • lhfick - 2012-05-04 05:45

    What, you can do what ever you want, if someone wants to steal your identity it is already done!

  • Madiagane - 2012-05-04 06:21

    If the findings from this survey are anything to go by, then a set of clear cut effective precautions should be suggested for subscribers in order to play safe with their privacy. Unless, the reports are only phoney or just another attempt to undermine this giant social network following its envisaged launching in the wall street market . Facebook has faced many troubles right from its very inception from friends and foes alike. Needless to say, even some of its co-founders went all out with everything they had just to try and make facebook suffer, but all in vain. I pray that this time , is not just another demonology of this successful social utility but an honest and bona fide consumer-oriented protection services, otherwise, like I already indicated , many underground forces are behind this mala fide reports to try to thwart the expansion of this company into wall street spheres which they monopolized for far too long unchallenged. Don't be alarmed by some claims just because they are purportedly backed by some statistics.

  • Gaby - 2012-05-04 08:46

    Can anyone tell me what "allow news24 to post on my behalf" actually means?

      Felix - 2012-05-04 09:20

      I think it has to do with posting the comments you make here to your wall in FB (along with a link to the story you commented on).

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